MINNEAPOLIS – Mark Ellis had three hits, including a two-run homer, and 30-year-old rookie Bobby Cramer won his second consecutive start, helping the Oakland Athletics beat the Minnesota Twins 6-2 on Sunday.
The AL Central-leading Twins lost reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer to a balky left knee late in the game. It wasn't immediately clear how Mauer was hurt; he was replaced defensively by Jose Morales in the seventh inning.
Cramer (2-0) was working on a three-hitter before Michael Cuddyer and Jim Thome went deep in the sixth. The left-hander departed after Thome's two-out drive, but Brad Ziegler, Michael Wuertz and Craig Breslow combined for 3 1-3 innings of one-hit ball.
Ellis and Akinori Iwamura each scored twice and drove in a pair of runs against Francisco Liriano (14-8), who lost for the first time since July 9 at Detroit. The lefty is 8-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his last 12 starts.
Iwamura hit a two-run single in Oakland's three-run first and Ellis went deep with two out in the fifth, hitting a 3-1 pitch into the seats in left-center to make it 5-0.
The A's added an unearned run in the ninth after Gabe Gross' grounder went between shortstop J.J. Hardy's legs. Gross scored two batters later on Rajai Davis' single.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected in the fourth after Thome hit into a bizarre double play. Davis appeared to drop Thome's fly ball to center, but replays showed he made the catch before dropping the ball as he prepared to throw to second. Delmon Young, who went to second on the apparent drop, was subsequently called out for not tagging up at first.
NOTES: A's rookie Chris Carter went 0 for 3 and is hitless in all 32 of his major league at-bats. ... Oakland 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff took batting practice as he attempts to return from back spasms. Manager Bob Geren said he is improving, but how Kouzmanoff feels Monday will help determine when he returns. ... Twins rookie Ben Revere picked up his first two major league hits. ... Gardenhire confirmed Scott Baker will start Tuesday against Cleveland to give the rest of the rotation an extra day of rest. Baker has recently been bothered by tendinitis in his right elbow. ... Twins CF Denard Span (shoulder) was held out of the lineup for a third straight game as a precaution, although he took batting practice and Gardenhire said he would be available to play if needed. RF Jason Kubel (wrist) also took some swings and rested.