After an impressive homestand, the surging Oakland Athletics are hoping to see their momentum carry over on the road.
Giving the ball to Jarrod Parker could help them do just that.
Parker looks to extend his career-best winning streak to 10 on Tuesday night as Oakland renews its season series with the Minnesota Twins , who are coming off their first home victory in nearly a month.
The Athletics (83-60) have climbed into first place in the AL West behind an 11-3 run, a stretch during which they have hit .303 while outscoring opponents 79-47.
Oakland visits Target Field seeking a fourth consecutive win after concluding an 8-2 homestand with Sunday's 7-2 victory over Houston. Brandon Moss went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and Seth Smith hit a three-run homer.
"It doesn't matter who we play," catcher Stephen Vogt told MLB's official website. "We have to win every game. And coming away 8-2 on this homestand is a good way to roll into the road."
Winners in 15 of their last 20 against the AL Central, the A's have to be feeling good about turning to Parker (11-6, 3.57 ERA). The right-hander hasn't lost since May 22, going 9-0 with a 2.59 ERA in his last 18 starts.
"He goes out there and shuts teams down," Moss said. "He puts the ball in play and doesn't walk anybody. When he gets in trouble, he finds a way to dig deep and get himself out of it. That's what aces do."
Parker outdueled Texas' Yu Darvish on Wednesday, yielding two runs and five hits in six innings of an 11-4 victory.
"I'm just trying to stay in the moment," he said.
Parker went 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two matchups against the Twins last year, both of which came in Minnesota.
The Twins (62-80) enter this three-game set with some momentum after snapping a franchise worst-tying 10-game home losing streak with Monday's 6-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels . Minnesota is 8-21 at home since June 30, the majors' second-worst record over that stretch.
"We all know we've lost a few ballgames in a row here at home," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The people that showed up here were rooting pretty hard, and our guys were playing pretty hard, too. Big win."
Minnesota now turns to Liam Hendriks (1-2, 5.28) for his first home start after making six on the road. The right-hander was tagged for five runs - three earned - and eight hits over 4 1-3 innings in Wednesday's 6-5 walkoff loss at Houston.
"It was embarrassing," said Hendriks, against whom opponents are batting .302. "I got lackadaisical out there, and I just wasn't myself. I have to get back to getting ahead early, and keeping the ball down."
In his only appearance versus Oakland, Hendriks surrendered four runs in five innings in a 5-1 road loss Aug. 22, 2012.
He will need to be careful against Yoenis Cespedes , who is 13 for 32 with two homers in eight games this month.
"That's big for us," Melvin said. "It just seems like we have better energy when he's swinging the bat."
Cespedes led the A's to five wins in their final six games against the Twins last year, hitting safely in each while going 11 for 24 with two homers and eight RBIs.
Oakland's Josh Donaldson is expected to rejoin the lineup after sitting out Sunday due to a strained right quad. The third baseman is 10 for 22 with two homers, five doubles and five RBIs during a five-game hitting streak.
|September 02, 2013||Coco Crisp||Day-to-Day||Left game - right shin contusion|
|August 26, 2013||Josh Reddick||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|August 25, 2013||Josh Reddick||Day-to-Day||Right wrist|
|August 21, 2013||Derek Norris||15-Day DL||Fractured left big toe|
|August 21, 2013||Derek Norris||15-Day DL||Fractured left big toe|
|August 14, 2013||Bartolo Colon||15-Day DL||Left groin strain|
|August 30, 2013||Samuel Deduno||60-Day DL||Right shoulder soreness|
|August 30, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||60-Day DL||Fractured left tibia|
|August 29, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left shin injury|
|August 20, 2013||Joe Mauer||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 16, 2013||Oswaldo Arcia||Day-to-Day||Sore wrist|
|August 08, 2013||Ryan Doumit||7-Day DL||Concussion|
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Jarrod Parker 's strong outing wasn't enough to help the Oakland Athletics extend their division lead.
Parker looked in control against Minnesota, but Josh Willingham homered twice - once off Parker early, and again off reliever Ryan Cook to put his team in front for good in the eighth - to lead the Twins over Oakland 4-3 Tuesday night.
Parker, who gave up seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings, hasn't lost a decision since May 22, a span of 19 games. But that was of little consolation to the 24-year-old righty.
"I'm not happy that we lost, no matter what," Parker said. "Got to move on."
Parker also gave up a homer to Oswaldo Arcia , who helped Minnesota snap Oakland's three-game winning streak and prevented the A's from stretching their two-game lead over Texas in the AL West. The Rangers lost to Pittsburgh, 5-4.
Despite giving up the homers to Willingham and Arcia, Parker appeared to be on the verge of earning his 12th win. But Arcia singled off reliever Sean Doolittle to lead off the eighth. Doolittle struck out Ryan Doumit before being pulled for Ryan Cook (6-4), and Willingham followed by launching a 2-0 pitch an estimated 439 feet into the middle deck for his second multi-homer game this season.
It was only the second homer Cook had given up all year.
"I literally threw the ball right down the middle, and he did what he was supposed to do with it. . I couldn't have put it in a better spot for him," Cook said.
Willingham hadn't homered since Aug. 13 and entered the game hitless in his last 15 at-bats. Normally accustomed to batting cleanup as Minnesota's designated hitter, Willingham batted sixth and played left field on Tuesday night.
"Obviously he feels a little bit better," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "So that was nice to see him get that, he needed to get a smile on his face. It's been a battle for him."
Anthony Swarzak (2-2) pitched a scoreless eighth to pick up the win on his 28th birthday, and Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for his 34th save in 38 chances.
Twins starter Liam Hendriks worked 5 1-3 innings and matched his career high with six strikeouts. He had a one-run lead for most of those innings thanks to Willingham's second-inning solo shot.
"He likes playing against the teams he used to play for," a grinning Hendriks said of Willingham, who played a season with Oakland.
The A's took a 2-1 lead when Alberto Callaspo sent a 1-1 pitch 384 feet into the right-field seats after Hendriks hit Yoenis Cespedes to lead off the fifth. Hendriks hit another batter, Brandon Moss , the next inning and Cespedes followed with a run-scoring single to put Oakland up 3-1.
Parker got into trouble in the sixth after Arcia led off with a monster homer to right. Three of Minnesota's next four batters reached to load the bases for Pedro Florimon . But after a meeting on the mound, A's manager Bob Melvin elected to leave Parker in the game, and he calmly induced Florimon into a double play to end the threat.
"We needed one more out, and we're in position to win the game," Melvin said. "I'm not going to go back and go over every play of the game. At the end of the day, we're one out away from getting into the ninth inning with a lead."
NOTES: Callaspo's homer was his second since joining the A's. ... Oakland reinstated OF Josh Reddick (wrist) from the 15-day disabled list before the game. He wasn't in the lineup. ... INF Josh Donaldson also returned after missing one game with a sore right quadriceps. Donaldson went 1 for 4 and singled in the sixth. ... Minnesota has won seven straight at home against the A.L. West. ... After Florimon's double play, Minnesota is batting .228 this season with the bases loaded. . Cespedes is hitting .400 in nine games this month (14-for-35). . Oakland will send Sonny Gray (2-3) to the mound on Wednesday for his eighth-career start. Minnesota counters with Mike Pelfrey (5-11), who makes his first career start against the A's.