Kazmir Improves to 13-4, A’s Hold Off Twins 6-5

What looked like a sure win through six innings, got a bit dicey by the end, but when all was said and done the A’s had held off a Minnesota Twins’ comeback, holding onto a 6-5 win to take the first two games of the weekend series.

Scott Kazmir set down the first 12 batters he faced before losing his bid for a perfect game, but maintained his shutout through six innings with the A’s holding onto a 6-0 lead at that point.

The A’s lineup supported Kazmir with a four run fifth inning and two additional runs in the sixth inning to provide what proved to be very important insurance runs.

Stephen Vogt walked, Sam Fuld singled and Eric Sogard walked to load the bases leading off the fifth inning. Coco Crisp proved why he is the most important player in the A’s lineup with a bases clearing triple to center field to give the A’s a 3-0 lead at that point in the game. Crisp then came in to score on a passed ball with Brandon Moss batting, capping the four run inning.

“Any given night it could be anybody,” Crisp said. “Fortunately, I was able to find a gap and knock a few runs in.”

“A lot of times there’s one or two at-bats in the course of a game that have a little more oomph behind them than others, and that was huge,” manager Bob Melvin added.

In the bottom of the sixth, Josh Reddick walked and Stephen Vogt singled to lead off the frame and put runners on first and second with no outs. Sam Fuld grounded out for the first out, advancing Reddick and Vogt both into scoring position.

Eric Sogard, who has been swinging a hot bat over the past month, came through with a two-run double to right field to bring home both Reddick and Vogt and push the score to 6-0 before the Twins’ comeback.

Then there was the seventh inning…

Danny Santana lead off the inning with a single to center field and advanced to second on Brian Dozier’s walk, giving Minnesota runners on first and second with no outs. Trevor Plouffe hit a ball that deflected off Josh Donaldson at third and went into left field for a single, scoring Santana. Kazmir then got Kenny Vargas to strike out for the first out of the inning, but Oswaldo Arcia got to Kazmir again with a single up the middle to bring home Dozier for the Twins second run.

Kurt Suzuki flied out to Sam Fuld in center field for the second out, but Chris Parmelee doubled to left field and brought home Plouffe and Arcia and wound up on third base himself following a throwing error by Moss, ending Kazmir’s evening.

“Up until that point, he was as good as we’ve seen him pitch all year,” Melvin said of Kazmir.

Parmelee came in to score the final run for the Twins on a double by Eduardo Nunez off reliever Ryan Cook (run charged to Kazmir) before Jordan Schafer struck out on a foul tip to finally end the inning.

By the time it was all said and done, the Twins had scored five times off Kazmir. The A’s lefty still earned his 13th win of the season, improving to 13-4, behind a pitching line of five earned runs on five hits and one walk in 6.2 innings pitched. He struck out four batters.

Cook, Luke Gregerson and Sean Doolittle combined to toss 2.1 scoreless innings, extending an Oakland streak of 28.2 consecutive scoreless innings over the past 14 games by the A’s bullpen.

“Since we kind of figured out where the roles were, they can prepare a little better,” Melvin said. “They know when the phone rings who’s coming in the game. It took us a little while to get there, but we’ve got a lot of quality down there, and depth.”

Doolittle earned his 18th save of the season, breaking Allan Embree’s club record for saves by a lefty in a season.

Over the past 14 games, Sogard is now 13-for-39 for a .330 batting average with 11 runs scored and four multi-hit games since the All Star break.

Speaking of hot streaks, Jed Lowrie is also batting .330 over his past 26 games and Donaldson extended his hitting streak against the Twins to 15-games.

The A’s improved to 71-44 with the win, and thanks to a loss by the Angels to the Boston Red Sox, Oakland now has a four game lead in the American League West. Former A’s left fielder Yoenis Cespedes contributed a two-RBI double to help his former team extend their lead over the Angels.

Jeff Samardzija will take the mound for the A’s against rookie Trevor May tomorrow at 6:05 PM. The A’s will honor recently inducted Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa before the game and will present 20,000 fans with a bobblehead honoring their World Series winning manager.