(Sports Network) – The Oakland Athletics try to avoid a third straight loss this evening as they continue a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins at the Coliseum. In Friday’s opener, Michael Cuddyer hit a three-run homer and Francisco Liriano pitched seven strong innings, as the Twins held off the Athletics, 9-5. Trevor Plouffe and Jason Kubel added two RBI apiece for the Twins, who have won three of four.
“We’re still in this chase with two months to go,” said Plouffe. “We have a bunch of games left in our division and that’s why we’ve been successful in the past. As long as we can win some on the road and do our job at home, we’ll be there come September.”
Liriano (7-8) gave up two runs on six hits to pick up the victory. He struck out four and walked two. Josh Willingham hit a three-run and two-run homer for the A’s, who have lost two in a row since a three-game winning streak. Gio Gonzalez (9-8) allowed five runs — four earned — on nine hits over 5 1/3 innings to take the loss. He struck out five and walked three.
“Other than the two homers from Josh, not a good day all the way around,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Nick Blackburn is slated to get the ball for Minnesota today, and he is 7-7 with a 4.21 ERA. In 126 innings of work to date, the righty has yielded 148 hits and has walked 35 batters. He was roughed up by Texas on Monday, as the Rangers pounded out 11 hits and six earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings.
Blackburn is 1-1 versus Oakland this season with a minuscule 0.69 ERA, as he has permitted only one earned run to the A’s in 13 innings of work. In his career against Oakland, the veteran is 1-5 with a 5.16 ERA.
Guillermo Moscoso will oppose Blackburn, and while his 3-5 record isn’t impressive, the righty owns a solid 3.47 ERA. He was far from sharp on Monday against Tampa Bay, yielding five earned runs on eight hits in five innings of action. The righty has permitted just 51 hits in 59 2/3 innings of work, but he has nearly as many walks (23) as strikeouts (30). Moscoso has never faced the Twins in his young career.