Slowey doesn't allow a hit over seven innings, Twins down Athletics 4-2

Kevin Slowey held Oakland without a hit for seven innings and Minnesota took a team no-hitter into the eighth as the Twins defeated the Athletics 4-2 on Sunday.

Slowey combined with Jon Rauch, Jesse Crain and Matt Capps to limit Oakland to three hits, completing the Twins' fifth series sweep this season and third since the All-Star break.

Jason Kubel drove in the first run for the Twins and Jim Thome homered for a Minnesota team that will open a key AL Central series against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. The Twins (68-50) also moved 18 games over .500, their best record in nearly two years.

Slowey, who missed his last start because of a sore elbow, was congratulated by teammates, coaches and manager Ron Gardenhire when he finished the seventh inning. At that point, Slowey (11-5) had thrown 106 pitches, his second-highest total of the season.

Rauch entered the game to start the eighth inning and quickly struck out Chris Carter. Cliff Pennington broke up the no-hitter with a double to right, and Coco Crisp followed with an RBI double that ended the shutout. Rauch walked Daric Barton and was replaced by Jesse Crain, who got Kurt Suzuki to ground into an RBI fielder's choice before escaping the inning.

Capps gave up a single to Kevin Kouzmanoff to lead off the ninth inning, but got Mark Ellis to ground into a double play and Rajai Davis to ground out to end the game. It was Capps' fourth save in five chances since being traded from Washington.

Vin Mazarro (6-5) was effective for Oakland, limiting the Twins to two runs — one earned — on seven hits in six-plus innings. He's now thrown at least six innings in nine of 10 starts.

The Athletics have lost five of their past six games and 10 of 16.

Slowey allowed only five baserunners, including three walks, and struck out five during his masterful performance. He got out of a jam in the top of the seventh, when he put runners on first and second with one out. Gardenhire made a visit to the mound, but Slowey got Davis to ground into a double play that ended the inning.

Leading off the top of the fifth, Ellis hit what appeared to be a routine ground ball to Twins shortstop Alexi Casilla. He handled the ball cleanly, but his throw sailed well over the head of Minnesota first baseman Michael Cuddyer and into the Twins dugout. The error allowed Ellis to reach second, but Slowey struck out three straight batters to end the inning.

Crisp hit two balls early in the game that looked like they might be hits. Leading off, he hit a ball to right that Jason Kubel made a nice catch on. In the top of the sixth, Crisp hit a ball that looked headed for the left-field wall that Jason Repko caught at a full sprint.

The Twins took a 1-0 lead by stringing together three consecutive hits in the third. With two outs, Orlando Hudson singled up the middle and moved to third on Joe Mauer's single. Hudson then scored when Kubel's hit down the left-field line bounced into the seats for a double.

Thome added to the lead in the seventh, when he hit his 16th homer of the season into the right-field seats. The home run off of Oakland reliever Jerry Blevins — which was caught by a fan in a Thome T-shirt — was the 580th of Thome's career.

NOTES: Delmon Young wasn't in the starting lineup for the Twins for only the second time since May 27. Gardenhire wanted to get him some rest before playing the White Sox. ... Oakland reliever Andrew Bailey threw 20 pitches off of the mound, something A's manager Bob Geren called "a big step" in his rehab. Bailey (rib cage) hasn't pitched since July 20. ... Geren said OF Connor Jackson (hamstring) could also be activated in the next week.