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A's, Gray continue series with Twins

Sonny Gray tries to avoid his third loss in four starts on Wednesday when the Oakland Athletics continue a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

After tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings against Tampa Bay, Gray lost to Houston on Thursday, as he allowed three runs (2 earned) and seven hits in eight innings to fall to 2-3 to go along with a 2.51 ERA.

Minnesota, meanwhile, will counter with righty Mike Pelfrey, who was awful his last time out. Following a pair of one-run outings, Pelfrey was rocked by Toronto for six runs (5 earned) and six hits in six innings, dropping him to 5-11, while raising his ERA to 4.97.

"I felt like it was kind of a wasted day," said Pelfrey, who pitched to a 3.60 ERA in six August starts. "I thought my stuff was good, but I didn't make enough quality pitches in the third inning and they kicked my butt. I guess you tip your cap, because I went out there and gave it everything I have and they beat me. But that third inning can't happen and ended up being the ballgame."

In Tuesday's opener, Josh Willingham's upper-deck two-run blast in the eighth inning propelled Minnesota to a 4-3 win. Willingham also hit a solo home run as did Oswaldo Arcia for the Twins, who have won their past two.

"That was nice to see him get that, he needed to get a smile on his face. It's been a battle for him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Willingham.

Liam Hendriks pitched 5 1/3 innings in the start as he gave up three runs on seven hits with six strikeouts. Anthony Swarzak (2-2) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win.

Alberto Callaspo smacked a two-run home run while Yoenis Cespedes had an RBI and a run scored for the Athletics, who are two games up on the Rangers in the AL West.

Jarrod Parker was in line for the win as he gave up just two runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts in six innings. He hasn't lost a game since May 22 and is 9-0 over his last 19 starts.

Oakland was 5-4 last season against the Twins.