Anderson sharp for A's in return to mound

Trevor Plouffe has struggled since returning from the disabled list and hitting into a triple play only served to highlight his recent problems.

Oakland left-hander Brett Anderson pitched seven innings in his first start since undergoing elbow surgery nearly 15 months ago and the Athletics beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Tuesday night.

Plouffe has two hits in 29 at-bats (.069) since serving his stint on the disabled list with a bruised right thumb. He went hitless in eight at-bats during a rehab assignment.

Just when it seemed like the Twins were knocking on the door against Anderson in the fifth with Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit both singling to open the inning, Plouffe grounded sharply to third baseman Josh Donaldson, who started the around-the-horn triple play.

"We saw a pretty good pitching performance from both sides," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Anderson didn't give us much of a chance. We hit into a triple play and that's the breaks. That goes with the territory."

Minnesota scored a run in the first on former Athletic Josh Willingham's RBI single after Ben Revere reached on an infield single, stole second and took third on a wild pitch.

Anderson picked off Willingham straying off first base to get out of the inning then retired nine straight before Morneau and Doumit opened the fifth with hits, setting the stage for the third triple play in the majors this season.

Cole De Vries (2-5) overcome a slow start to pitch effectively, retiring 10 of 11 hitters during one stretch. It still didn't prevent the Twins from losing for the 10th time in 12 games.

"I was a little disappointed with myself in the first two innings," De Vries said. "I allowed myself to be too fine and I ended up going deep into counts and throwing too many pitches."

De Vries retired the first two batters in the inning before Smith, Donaldson and Derek Norris followed with consecutive hits. Norris' single to the gap in left-center drove in Smith to give the A's a 2-1 lead.

"I was able to command the lower part of the zone," De Vries said. "Everything kind of melded together there."

Anderson did the rest to win for the first time since May 26, 2011.

He didn't walk a batter and retired his final seven hitters before departing after the seventh.

De Vries struck out three in 5 2-3 innings but lost to the A's for the second time this season and remained winless since June 30.

NOTES: Injured Twins OF Denard Span was scheduled to have an MRI on his right clavicle but was unable to go through with the test because he felt claustrophobic. Gardenhire is hoping to avoid putting Span on the DL. ... The Twins announced RHP Carl Pavano will miss the remainder of the season after being diagnosed with a bruise on his right humerus bone. ... A's LHP Tommy Milone (9-9) opposes Twins RHP Liam Hendriks (0-5) Wednesday in a matchup of slumping pitchers. Milone is winless over his previous four starts while Hendriks has yet to win in the big leagues. Hendriks was called up from Triple-A Rochester before Tuesday's game.