(Photo credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports)
Ryan Noda homered in the eighth inning to break a 1-1 tie and four Oakland pitchers combined for a four-hitter as the Athletics salvaged the final game of a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins, 2-1, on Thursday afternoon in Minneapolis.
Noda led off the eighth against reliever Kenta Maeda (6-8) with his 16th home run of the season, a 404-foot blast into the plaza behind right-field bleachers for what proved to be the game-winning run.
Nick Allen earlier had an RBI single for Oakland (49-110), which snapped a three-game losing streak.
Lucas Erceg (4-4), despite walking the bases loaded during a 38-pitch seventh inning of relief, picked up the win. Former Twin Trevor May pitched a hitless ninth to garner his 21st save. Luis Medina pitched well in his final start of the season, allowing one run on three hits over six innings. He walked three and struck out four.
Willi Castro reached base three times with a single and two walks and scored a run for American League Central winner Minnesota (85-74), which had a three-game winning streak snapped.
The Twins' Sonny Gray, named on Thursday the Game 2 starter for next week's wild-card playoff series, left after pitching four innings and 55 pitches in his final tune-up. He allowed one run on three hits and a walk while striking out four and lowering his ERA to 2.79.
Oakland took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when JJ Bleday singled, advanced to second on Aledmys Diaz's groundout to first base and scored on Allen's bloop single down the right-field line.
Minnesota tied it at 1-1 in the sixth. Castro led off with a bunt single and advanced to second on a single by Donovan Solano. After Medina then hit Alex Kirilloff to load the bases, Castro scored when Matt Wallner grounded into a double play.
The Twins had a chance to take the lead in the seventh inning when Erceg walked the bases loaded. Erceg got out of the jam by striking out Solano in a 12-pitch at-bat that featured eight foul balls.
--Field Level Media