OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Joe Mauer doubled and scored on Matthew LeCroy’s single in the ninth inning, leading the Minnesota Twins over the Oakland Athletics 2-1 on Sunday.

Rich Harden struck out nine while allowing one hit in eight innings, but left without a decision because the A’s managed just one run against Carlos Silva. Minnesota’s only hit off Harden was Michael Ryan’s long homer in the third inning.

Mauer led off the ninth with a double down the left-field line against Justin Duchscherer (6-3), Oakland’s All-Star reliever. Mauer advanced to third on a groundout and scored on LeCroy’s slow single up the middle, drawing boos from a Coliseum crowd that hated to see Harden’s performance wasted.

Juan Rincon (5-4) got three outs in the eighth for the Twins, who took two of three from Oakland in the weekend series after losing 10 of their previous 13 games. Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 32 opportunities, including 13 straight.

The A’s, who began the series alone in first place in the AL West, had won their previous nine series. They had won 12 of 14 games overall before their offense collapsed against Johan Santana, who threw a three-hit shutout on Friday, and Silva.

Harden, who struck out the side with 11 pitches in the second inning, is winless in three August starts after going 7-1 in his previous eight appearances.

Ryan snapped an 0-for-27 slump with his second homer of the season, but Harden didn’t allow another hit. Though he walked four, Harden mostly avoided trouble – and his 114th pitch registered 100 mph on the Coliseum’s radar gun.

But as usual these days, Oakland’s offense needed a few innings to get going. The A’s finally tied it in the sixth when Jason Kendall singled and eventually scored on Bobby Crosby’s double-play grounder.

Silva remained winless in his last seven starts despite another impressive performance for Minnesota. The right-hander allowed seven hits – all singles – in seven innings, but was pulled before the eighth after just 86 pitches.

Silva, among the majors’ best control pitchers, didn’t walk a batter. He has walked just eight in 159 2-3 innings this season.

Notes: OF Jacque Jones took batting practice with the Twins before the game. Minnesota still hasn’t decided whether the veteran, who leads the Twins with 17 homers and 57 RBIs, should go on the disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle. … A’s OF Nick Swisher went on the bereavement list due to his grandmother’s death. Swisher, a leading candidate for the AL Rookie of the Year award, was replaced on the roster by Matt Watson, who got his third callup of the season from Triple-A Sacramento.

AP-ES-08-14-05 1814EDT


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