MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Eric Chavez’s single drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to help Barry Zito win his eighth straight start, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Minnesota Twins 5-2 Thursday.

Chavez, who also hit a solo homer, singled off reliever J.C. Romero with one out to give the A’s a 3-2 lead.

Zito (11-8) pitched eight solid innings, allowing just four hits while striking out eight. He hasn’t lost since June 17 against Philadelphia.

Oakland tacked on two more runs in the ninth off Juan Rincon on an RBI double by Nick Swisher and a sacrifice fly by Bobby Crosby.

Huston Street pitched the ninth for his 12th save. Jesse Crain (9-2) took the loss.

The A’s are 34-8 in their past 42 games. Oakland entered the day two games behind the first-place Angels in the AL West and three games ahead of the New York Yankees in the wild-card race.

The Twins have lost seven of eight and 11 of 14.

In his last 10 games, Chavez is 13-for-38 (.342) with three homers and 10 RBIs.

The Twins tied the score at 2 when Jacque Jones scored from first on Justin Morneau’s two-out double to right-center in the seventh inning. Zito struck out Michael Cuddyer to end the threat, making Minnesota hitless in its past 24 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Kyle Lohse took a no-decision, pitching seven innings and allowing two runs and seven hits for the Twins. He hasn’t won in six starts.

Dan Johnson, a rookie who grew up in the Minneapolis suburb of Coon Rapids, hit a go-ahead homer leading off the seventh for the A’s, sending Lohse’s pitch into the right-field upper deck.

Zito, the AL pitcher of the month for July, was perfect through four innings, but Matthew LeCroy hit a line-drive homer to left on Zito’s first pitch of the fifth to tie the score at 1.

The Twins threatened to take the lead when Jones followed with a walk and Morneau a single to put runners on first and second. But Zito got out of the jam by striking out Cuddyer and inducing Mike Redmond to hit into a double play.

Zito, whose big, looping curveball was in fine form, struck out six of his first nine batters.

Chavez put Oakland up 1-0 in the fourth when he smacked an 0-1 pitch from Lohse off the facing of the football press box in right-center. The homer was his 18th of the season and sixth since the All-Star break.

Notes: Twins CF Lew Ford made a running catch in front of the left-center fence on Swisher’s drive in the sixth. … Crosby went 2-for-4 to break out of a 3-for-30 slump.

AP-ES-08-04-05 1554EDT


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