Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) – Mark Ellis collected three hits, including a two-run homer, and walked twice, as the Oakland Athletics beat Minnesota, 6-2, in the rubber match of a three-game series at Target Field.
Akinori Iwamura hit a two-run single for the Athletics, while Bobby Cramer (2-0), making his second career start, allowed two runs on five hits and issued three walks in 5 2/3 innings. Cramer, who turns 31 next month, won his major league debut Monday in Kansas City after he allowed a run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Michael Cuddyer and Jim Thome both homered for the Twins, whose magic number to clinch their second consecutive American League Central title remains at five.
Francisco Liriano (14-8) absorbed his first loss since July 9 at Detroit after being tagged for five runs and seven hits over five full frames. The Minnesota left-hander had gone 8-0 with a 2.41 ERA in his previous 11 starts.
The A’s jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. After Daric Barton hit a one-out single and Ellis doubled down the third-base line, Kurt Suzuki slapped an RBI single to right field. Josh Donaldson drew a two-out walk and Iwamura plated a pair with a single up the middle.
Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected in the fourth inning after what looked to be a dropped catch on a fly ball hit by Thome resulted in a double play.
Ellis’ blast followed a two-out single by Barton in the fifth and increased Oakland’s lead to 5-0.
The Twins trailed by three runs after Cramer gave up homers to Cuddyer and Thome in the sixth.
Rajai Davis added an RBI single in the ninth for Oakland.
Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer left the game after the sixth inning with a jammed left knee and is considered day-to-day. He was replaced by Jose Morales in the seventh…The Twins lost their first series at home since July 19-21, when they dropped two of three to Cleveland…Oakland outfielder Coco Crisp is scheduled to see a hand specialist on Monday after fracturing his left pinkie finger during the sixth inning of Saturday’s 4-2 loss at Minnesota…The Twins took six of nine from Oakland in the season series.