A's head home after tough road trip

A's head home after tough road trip

MINNEAPOLIS -- A bust of a road trip mercifully ended with a much-needed win for the A's, who can head west feeling a shade better about what transpired over the last 10 days, following their 8-5 victory in Minnesota on Thursday afternoon.

Their bats were back in action to support a solid outing from Jharel Cotton, who racked up a career-high nine strikeouts in six innings. The A's avoided a sweep at the hands of a hot-hitting Twins team to return home on a positive note.

The last week-plus saw the A's make stops in Anaheim, Houston and Minneapolis, and just two wins were had in nine tries, as they slipped to 12-16 overall.

"There are certain games that are more important than others, and this was a big one for us, especially when we have a lead early on," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We needed to finish this game off and have a better feeling going home, because the better part of this road trip was miserable.

"You go 2-7 on a trip, it's nothing to be proud of, so winning the last one, hopefully puts the road trip in the rearview mirror."

The offense was largely missing before Thursday's finale, which featured a season-high eight walks and 14 hits -- including two each from Matt Joyce, who appears to be waking from his slumber; Ryon Healy, who snapped an 0-for-9 streak; Stephen Vogt, who began the trip 3-for-20; and Chad Pinder, who reached base four times.

The A's were batting just .195 over their previous nine games, scoring 21 runs in that stretch. On Thursday, they jumped out to an early lead, their first since Sunday.

Though they also stranded 13 base runners, they maintained their lead, albeit barely. The homer-happy Twins, who counted off six home runs in Tuesday's opener and another on Wednesday, belted three more on Thursday, but the two off Cotton were solo shots -- and the right-hander held them to just one other hit on the day.

Reliever Frankie Montas surrendered a two-run homer to Eduardo Escobar in the eighth, and Santiago Casilla elevated the drama in the ninth by loading the bases, before striking out Miguel Sano to secure the win.

Casilla fans Sano, gets the save

"They came back and scored a couple runs, and we kept adding on," Melvin said. "So all of the things offensively that you want to see, get off to an early lead, keep adding on, grinding your at-bats, we did all of that today."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.