Minneapolis, MN – Chris Carter clubbed a three-run home run as part of a four-run first inning and the Oakland Athletics defeated the Minnesota Twins, 9-3, in the second installment of a three-game set Saturday at Target Field.
The A's, who struck out 16 times in Friday's series-opening win, pounded four home runs as a team and improved to a major-league best 8-1 in the month of July.
Yoenis Cespedes crushed a two-run homer and knocked in three runs, while Seth Smith and Brandon Moss each belted solo shots. Tommy Milone (9-6) scattered 10 hits and gave up two runs over six frames to earn his third victory in his last four starts.
Rookie Cole De Vries (2-2) was shelled for seven runs on six hits over five frames to absorb the loss for Minnesota. Josh Willingham and Brian Dozier each added solo home runs, but the Twins dropped their fourth straight game.
"I just didn't feel very good out there tonight," admitted De Vries. "I felt real weak for whatever reason for the first inning or two. I just felt overly hot."
The A's jumped all over the rookie right-hander early as they struck for four runs in the top of the first inning.
De Vries retired the first two A's on fly outs, but surrendered a single to Josh Reddick to start the rally. Cespedes followed with an RBI double into right field before Moss was hit by a pitch.
Carter then delivered the big blow of the inning when he crushed a fastball deep into the bullpen in left-center field to give the A's a 4-0 lead.
"The bats came alive today," remarked Milone. "When you get ahead early like that in the first inning, my job is to go out there and pound the strike zone and let them hit it into play, so that's what I did."
The visitors added two more in the third on a long ball as Cespedes launched a first-pitch fastball the other way to score Reddick, who reached on a one-out single.
Minnesota got one back when Dozier led off the bottom half with a solo blast, but the A's responded with their third home run of the game in the fifth, as Smith's upper-deck shot gave his team a 7-1 advantage.
De Vries was pulled to start the sixth but the A's didn't stop hitting balls out of the park as Moss launched Anthony Swarzak's fourth offering over the wall in straightaway center field, pressing the margin to 8-1.
Minnesota battled back in the bottom half as Joe Mauer walked to start the frame before back-to-back singles plated a run.
Trevor Plouffe followed with a line-drive base hit to load the bases, but Milone minimized the damage by inducing a tapper back to the mound from Ryan Doumit before grounding Dozier into an inning-ending double play.
Willingham smacked a leadoff homer in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Smith answered in the ninth with an RBI triple high off the wall in right field to account for the final margin.
Willingham has now hit a home run in each of his last four games at Target Field. He has five home runs in five games against the A's...Justin Morneau extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI single in the sixth...Plouffe's base hit in the sixth improved his career-high hit streak to 12 games...The temperature was 90 degrees at start time.