Oakland tries to move closer to AL West title versus Twins

The Oakland Athletics hope to move one step closer to a second straight American League West crown on Friday when they continue their four-game set with the Minnesota Twins at Coliseum.

Oakland sliced its magic number for clinching the division to four in Thursday's opener, as Coco Crisp clubbed a go-ahead two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Athletics to an 8-6 victory.

Jed Lowrie laced a tie-breaking three-run homer to cap Oakland's four-run sixth and give the A's a 6-3 cushion, but the Twins tagged Oakland's bullpen for three runs over the next two frames to even the score.

Shairon Martis (0-1) issued a leadoff walk to Daric Barton to start the home half of the eighth and after Alberto Callaspo fanned, Crisp stroked a 2-1 fastball into the seats in right-center field to put the A's in front.

Sean Doolittle (5-5) recorded the final out of the eighth before retiring the Twins in order in the ninth to pick up the win, Oakland's seventh in nine tries overall.

"I know we're close, but we've got to keep the same philosophy," Crisp said. "You can't look too far ahead. I know it's very difficult, especially at this stage. Hopefully you'll get there and win this division."

Oswaldo Arcia smacked a solo homer and scored twice for the Twins, who have dropped seven of their last nine games.

Getting the call for the A's on Friday will be right-hander Bartolo Colon, who was brilliant in beating the Texas Rangers on Saturday. Colon scattered seven hits over eight scoreless innings in that one to improve to 16-6, while lowering his ERA to 2.73.

"Boy, that was like mid-June Bartolo," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You could tell he really had great command of his fastball, good velocity, great movement."

Colon has faced the Twins 23 times (22 starts) and is 9-8 against them with a 4.14 ERA.

Minnesota, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Andrew Albers, who is 2-3 with a 3.81 ERA. Albers lost to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday, as he surrendered four runs and six hits in four innings.

This will be his first-ever start against the A's.

Oakland took two of three from the Twins last week at Target Field.