AL West-leading A's close series against Twins

The Oakland Athletics are starting to pull away in the American League West. They will try to stretch their lead even further on Thursday when they play the rubber match of a three-game set with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

After losing Tuesday's opener, Oakland bounced back in a big way on Wednesday, as Stephen Vogt singled and homered as part of a 10-run fourth inning which propelled the Athletics to an 18-3 rout.

Jed Lowrie finished with four RBI, Vogt and Yoenis Cespedes each drove in three runs, while Daric Barton had three hits and a pair of RBI in the lopsided victory, the A's fourth in their last five games.

Josh Reddick also doubled in the fifth inning in his first at-bat since coming off the disabled list to help the A's move three games in front of the Texas Rangers in the division.

"I threw balls over the middle of the plate and they hit it," said Minnesota loser Mike Pelfrey. "It was an awful night."

Sonny Gray (3-3) pitched well with the lead, striking out seven batters for his third straight outing. Gray yielded two runs on four hits.

"All the way around, we didn't pitch very well," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "Pitching, just the whole package, they dominated us."

Hoping to deliver the same type of support this afternoon the A's turn to righty A.J. Griffin, who has won his last three starts. Griffin beat the Houston Astros on Friday, as he allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings. He also matched a career-high with nine strikeouts and improved to 13-9 to go along with a 3.91 ERA.

Griffin beat the Twins the only other time he faced them.

Minnesota, meanwhile, will hand the ball to lefty Scott Diamond, who is back with the team after being sent to Triple-A Rochester in early August. In six starts at that level Diamond pitched to a 2.02 ERA.

With the Twins this season he was 5-10 with a 5.52 ERA.

"Confidence was the big thing when we sent him down, and he's definitely confident right now," Gardenhire said. "He knew his pitches weren't finishing. He had some success, and kind of took off from there. He pitched very well down the stretch. At least we know he's got his confidence back, and that's huge."

Oakland was 5-4 last season against the Twins.