(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oakland Athletics try to beat the Minnesota Twins for the ninth straight time on Thursday when they close out a three-game set at Target Field.
Oakland, which was 6-1 versus the Twins last season, continued its recent dominance against them on Wednesday, as Derek Norris hit a three-run homer in the 11th inning to lift the Athletics to a 7-4 win. Brandon Moss knocked in two runs for Oakland, who have won 13 of its last 15 matchups against Minnesota.
It was much harder than it should have been, though, as A's closer Jim Johnson again struggled, as he gave up two runs in the ninth before being pulled by manager Bob Melvin.
Johnson had saved 50 games for Baltimore last season, but has pitched to an 18.90 ERA in 3 1/3 innings this season.
Brian Dozier hit a solo homer and ended with two RBI for the Twins, who went 1-for-6 with runner in scoring position and stranded 11. Jason Kubel went 4- for-5 with a solo homer.
Minnesota starter Phil Hughes allowed four runs on five hits and walked three over five innings. Jared Burton (0-1) gave up the homer to Norris to take the loss.
"Just a combination of some jitters and overthrowing," Hughes said of his early struggles. "You talk about four runs down and 40 pitches in and it's a tough way to start."
Hoping to change the Twins' fortunes on Thursday will be righty Mike Pelfrey, who was tagged with the loss on Friday in Cleveland. Pelfrey cruised through the first five innings of that one before giving up three runs on two home runs in the sixth.
"I just kind of lost it," Pelfrey said. "The game just got away from me, and it just fell apart real quick. So it kind of ruins the whole day no matter how those first four innings went."
Oakland, meanwhile, will counter with righty Dan Straily, who lost to Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners on Saturday. Straily matched the former AL Cy Young Award winner for four scoreless innings, but like Pelfrey, surrendered two home runs in the fifth and absorbed the loss, as he allowed three runs and six hits in six innings.
"It was disappointing," said Straily, who struck out seven and walked one. "I did a good job of executing the game plan minus those two pitches."
With another win on Thursday Oakland will have its first nine-game winning streak against the Twins since doing it from Aug. 13, 1980-April 22, 1981.