Valencia homers, Slowey effective as AL Central-leading Twins beat Athletics 4-2

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Rookie Danny Valencia hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the sixth inning, sending Kevin Slowey and the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins over the Oakland Athletics 4-2 Saturday.

The Twins cut their magic number for clinching the division to six. Minnesota began the day with a nine-game lead over second-place Chicago.

Valencia, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Repko each had two hits for the Twins.

Slowey (13-6) set a career high for wins, giving up two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. Matt Capps earned his 40th save and 13th in 15 chances since coming to Minnesota.

Landon Powell homered and doubled for Oakland. Rookie Chris Carter kept struggling, going 0 for 2 with a pair of strikeouts — he is 0 for 29 with 13 whiffs since making his major league debut this season.

Dallas Braden (9-13) went six innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and four walks.

Valencia connected for the second straight game, his fourth home run this season snapping a 1-all tie in the sixth. The Twins loaded the bases later in the inning with one out, but Braden escaped retired Ben Revere on a popup and striking out Orlando Hudson.

The Twins have seen Valencia deliver in the clutch as he's hit .431 with runners in scoring position. He's done damage at Target Field, hitting .465 for the best home batting average in the majors.

Slowey, meanwhile, is trying to put himself in position for a potential starting spot in the playoffs.

Since a trip to the disabled list with a right triceps strain at the end of August, Slowey is 2-0 and has allowed four earned runs over 15 2-3 innings in his last three starts.

Slowey gave up just one hit — Powell's solo home run in the second — through the first four innings.

Braden, who had allowed just five earned runs over his last five road starts, cruised before the Twins scored in the fifth to tie it.

Notes: Minnesota CF Denard Span missed his second straight game with what is classified as a bruised rotator cuff in his right shoulder, an injury that occurred in Thursday's finale in Chicago while diving for a sinking line drive. Span said he felt better Saturday after receiving treatment on the shoulder and was available for defense or pinch-running duties. He was unsure when he would return to the lineup full-time. ... Oakland manager Bob Geren said 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff is improving, but is still considered day to day. Kouzmanoff has been out since Sept. 6 with back spasms. ... Revere got his first career RBI with a groundout in the fifth, scoring J.J. Hardy.