In a game where the A's struck out 15 times and allowed two home runs to former slugger Josh Willingham, Jonny Gomes was a one-man cavalry charge, driving in five runs in a 6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins.
With the victory, the A's are now back over .500 for the first time since May 21. Despite the worst statistical start of his brief career, Oakland starter A.J. Griffin got his first win. All-Star Ryan Cook notched his ninth save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Griffin was actually pretty solid except for his dealings with Willingham.
In the first, his pickoff of Denard Span allowed him to defer pitching to Willingham until the second inning. But on the first pitch he saw, Willingham crushed a solo home run to center to make it 1-0.
It would stay that way until the top of the fourth. After an infield single by Jemile Weeks, Span's error allowed Yoenis Cespedes to reach first base. Chris Carter then walked in a great at-bat to set up Gomes, who delivered his eighth career Grand Slam on the first pitch he saw to make it 4-1.
However, Griffin would again be victimized by Willingham who crushed a two-run home run to left field after a Joe Mauer single to lead off the bottom of the fourth. But he would settle down and leave the game with a 4-3 advantage. Griffin's line for the game was three runs allowed on eight hits, with one walk and five strikeouts in six innings of work.
The Twins had a chance in the eighth inning.
After two quick outs, Willingham walked and Justin Morneau doubled to put runners on second and third off reliever Sean Doolittle. Grant Balfour came in to face Minnesota slugger Drew Plouffe, who ripped a liner on a 3-2 count right into the glove of a ranging Weeks to end the inning.
The A's would get much needed insurance with RBI singles by Gomes and Brandon Inge to conclude the scoring.
With the win, the A's are now 44-43 and look to build on their success as Tom Milone faces Minnesota's Cole De Vries Saturday evening. First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m.
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