Twins come back from six runs down but fall short

Five-run seventh sparks hope, but A's bullpen proves too tough

Twins come back from six runs down but fall short

OAKLAND -- It looked as though it would be another one of Kyle Gibson's strong outings Friday night against the A's.

The right-hander cruised through the first four innings, using his sinker to get plenty of ground balls, while matching A's left-hander Scott Kazmir in what appeared to be a pitchers' duel.

But Gibson ran into trouble in a four-run fifth inning and a two-run sixth, and the Twins couldn't complete a late comeback against Kazmir in a 6-5 loss to Oakland at Coliseum.

"We got behind early and we had the one bad inning out there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We made a nice run but we came up short."

Gibson gave up just two hits through four scoreless innings but it all unraveled in the fifth. All told, Gibson surrendered six runs (five earned) on five hits and five walks to fall to 10-9 with a 4.13 ERA on the year.

It was another case of Gibson either being on his game or struggling, as he has a 1.05 ERA in his 10 wins and an 11.84 ERA in his nine losses. But this one stung for Gibson, as he had walked just five batters over his last six starts before matching that total in the loss.

"It's embarrassing to go out there and pitch five innings and walk that many guys," Gibson said. "It's unacceptable."

Gibson seemed to lose his control in the fifth; walking leadoff batter Stephen Vogt on four pitches before Sam Fuld reached on a bunt single that featured a throwing error from first baseman Chris Parmelee to put runners at second and third. Eric Sogard followed with a five-pitch walk to load the bases.

Coco Crisp made Gibson pay with a three-run triple to right-center field before scoring on a passed ball from catcher Kurt Suzuki to give the A's a 4-0 lead.

"It was frustrating to have the fifth inning go the way it did," Gibson said. "I was just missing down with everything and wasn't catching the zone with my sinker."

Gibson struggled with his control again in the sixth, as he walked Josh Reddick on just four pitches before giving up a single to Vogt. Reliever Anthony Swarzak replaced Gibson but surrendered a two-run double to Sogard with both runs getting charged to Gibson.

Gardenhire said he kept Gibson in the game as a chance for the inexperienced right-hander to bounce back from his rough inning and learn from his mistakes. But it ultimately didn't work out and ended up costing them with their late rally falling just short.

"That's my bad for putting him back out there," Gardenhire said. "The reason why I did it was because he needed to go back out there after one bad inning, but that didn't turn out too well either."

Kazmir opened the game with four perfect innings, but labored through a five-run seventh inning that snapped a 19-inning scoreless streak for the Twins.

Trevor Plouffe got Minnesota on the board with an RBI single before Oswaldo Arcia added an RBI single of his own. Parmelee brought home two more runs with a two-out double down the left-field line and reached third on an error from Moss.

Eduardo Nunez made it a one-run game with an RBI double off reliever Ryan Cook, but Cook was able to strand Nunez by striking out Jordan Schafer to end the inning.

"They put some really good at-bats together consistently throughout that inning," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "So when the inning's over you know you're in for a battle."

Reliever Luke Gregerson tossed a 1-2-3 eighth for the A's before handing it over to closer Sean Doolittle, who turned in a scoreless ninth to get his 18th save and preserve the win for Oakland.

But the Twins made it interesting in the final frame, as pinch-hitter Josh Willingham just missed out on a potential go-ahead homer off Doolittle but it hooked just foul. Doolittle ended the game just one pitch later on a called third strike on a fastball.

"We turned it around on them and had some chances at the end, which was really exciting," Gardenhire said. "Willingham just hooked one. The guys kept competing. But unfortunately we got behind and we had the inning where we made a mistake and that always starts something."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.