MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Rookie Joe Blanton allowed two hits over seven innings and Scott Hatteberg singled home the go-ahead run in the seventh to lift the surging Oakland Athletics to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.

Blanton (6-9) struck out four and walked two to get the first road victory of his career and extend Oakland’s winning streak to five games.

Entering the game, Blanton was 0-6 with a 5.18 ERA in nine road starts, but he feasted on a Twins lineup that has been simply offensive since the All-Star break.

The Twins began the day having scored just 63 runs since the All-Star break, the second-fewest in the AL.

They were no better on Monday as they wasted a strong start by Johan Santana (10-6). Santana gave up two runs and five hits and struck out seven in seven innings.

Dan Johnson doubled to start the seventh and scored on Hatteberg’s single to give the A’s the lead.

That was more than enough for Blanton, who made just one mistake to Justin Morneau in the second.

Morneau’s towering 407-foot homer into the upper deck in right field in the second tied the game 1-1 and tied him for the team lead with 15.

But Blanton bounced back, allowing one hit over the next five innings and retiring the last eight hitters he faced to deal the Twins their fifth straight loss.

Huston Street, also a rookie, pitched the ninth for his 10th save.

The game was a meeting of teams headed in completely different directions. The A’s have been close to unbeatable since a slow start, winning a remarkable 32 times in the last 39 games.

After a 6-2 loss to Cleveland on May 29, the A’s trailed the Los Angeles Angels by 121/2 games in the AL West. But they won 19 times in June, 20 times in July and have started August 1-0 to pull within one game of the Angels. They also hold a two-game lead over the New York Yankees in the wildcard race.

The Twins, meanwhile, have been in a free fall. They have lost nine of their last 11 and trail the A’s by five games in the wildcard standings.

Earlier Monday, the Twins learned that Gold Glove center fielder Torii Hunter will miss at least a month and possibly the rest of the season with a broken left ankle.

The Twins sure could have used their leader.

After Bobby Crosby doubled with two outs in the first, Eric Chavez hit a high drive to deep left center. Center fielder Lew Ford gave chase, but came up a step short. The ball bounced into the seats for an RBI-double to give Oakland a 1-0 lead.

In the seventh Ford was slow to get to Johnson’s hit into right-center, allowing him to race into second base. Had the speedy and strong-armed Hunter been there, Johnson may have been limited to a single.

They also missed Hunter at the plate. When he went down in Friday’s loss at Boston, Hunter was leading the team with 14 homers. Manager Ron Gardenhire put Terry Tiffee into Hunter’s cleanup spot, and Tiffee went hitless.

Notes: The Twins haven’t lost five straight since July 9-16, 2004. … Johnson, a native of Coon Rapids, Minn., was 1-for-4 in his first major league game in his home state. … Ford had the other hit for Minnesota. … The Twins released 2B Bret Boone on Monday and recalled IF Jason Bartlett. In his first game back, Bartlett was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

AP-ES-08-01-05 2231EDT


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