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Kirilloff rallies Twins to 5-4 win over A's for a series sweep

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Alex Kirilloff homered in the fifth inning and hit a three-run double in the seventh, rallying the Minnesota Twins to a 5-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics and a series sweep Sunday.

Christian Vázquez also connected for the Twins, who hadn’t won three straight in Oakland since July 1997.

“We’re not a one-dimensional group but we have to prove that we’re not a one-dimensional group,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Showing it in these three games, that’s what we saw. Our hitters plugged away, took a lot of tough pitches. We were on base a lot this series. We did a little bit of everything. It's a nice way to start the second half, is what it is.”

Jordan Diaz homered and drove in two runs for the last-place A’s. Losers of seven straight, Oakland (25-70) has been swept 13 times this season.

The game at the Coliseum drew a crowd of 9,335, marking the 26th time in 47 home games the attendance has been below 10,000.

Minnesota trailed most of the game and was down 3-2 entering the seventh following a shaky outing from starter Joe Ryan.

Max Kepler’s one-out single off JP Sears started the rally and extended his on-base streak at the Coliseum to 14 games dating to July 2017. After reliever Lucas Erceg (2-1) walked Vázquez, pinch-hitter Edouard Julien hit a sharp grounder to third base that Aledmys Díaz fielded but dropped while transferring the ball to his throwing hand.

Kirilloff then drilled a fastball from Erceg down the left-field line. The ball rolled to the outfield fence as the bases cleared, giving Minnesota its first lead.

That spoiled a mostly strong outing from Sears. Winless since June 11, the left-hander had seven strikeouts, didn’t walk anyone, and allowed four hits and three runs in 6 1/3 innings.

“JP did an unbelievable job. He’s continuing to get better,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “He went out today and gave us a really great performance against a really good hitting team. “

Jorge López (3-2) retired four batters for the win. Jhoan Duran earned his 15th save, getting Tony Kemp to line out to center field for the final out with the potential tying run at second base.

Minnesota’s defense also came up big with two fantastic plays by left fielder Willi Castro. He made a leaping catch at the fence in the second to rob Aledmys Díaz of extra bases, one batter after Jordan Diaz hit his sixth home run. In the fourth, Castro made a sliding grab of Jordan Diaz’s sinking liner in left-center to hold him to a sacrifice fly.

“You’re not going to win games like this without great individual plays in the field,” Baldelli said. “Willi did a fantastic job today in left field. He’s the jack of all trades for us right now and he moves around, but he doesn’t play the positions like a guy that just moves around.”

Vázquez had two hits to break out of an extended slump at the plate. His home run off Sears in the fifth was his second of the season and first since June 19. Two batters later, Kirilloff connected off Sears for his fifth home run.

“I’m just trying to put a good swing on the ball,” Kirilloff said. “Sometimes (home runs) come in bunches, sometimes they come once a month. I’m just not a guy who’s trying to swing hard. I’ll just take them as they come.”

Ryan had seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings but allowed five hits and three runs.


Duran threw 18 pitches in the ninth, 10 of which clocked 100 mph or faster.


Twins second baseman Donovan Solano made a strong play to end the third when he raced in to get Kemp’s slow grounder and then – using his glove hand – flipped the ball to first to barely get the A’s leadoff hitter.


Twins: SS Jorge Polanco (left hamstring strain) began what is expected to be a lengthy rehab assignment with Triple-A St. Paul. Polanco has been out since May 20.

Athletics: All-Star OF Brent Rooker was held out of the lineup due to illness.


Twins: RHP Sonny Gray (4-3, 2.89 ERA) faces the Mariners in Seattle, six days after pitching there in the All-Star Game. Gray has five wins in 14 career starts against the Mariners.

Athletics: RHP Paul Blackburn (1-1, 4.86) pitches Monday against the Red Sox. Blackburn was scratched from his previously scheduled start against Boston on July 8 because of illness.


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