OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Interim manager Bob Melvin has seen his Athletics lineup wake up since the All-Star break, and it’s a pleasure for him to watch.
Coco Crisp keyed Oakland’s offense with two hits and three stolen bases, leading Brandon McCarthy and the A’s past the Minnesota Twins 7-3 on Sunday.
Ryan Sweeney drove in two runs and McCarthy struck out a career-high nine in six effective innings as the A’s won their fifth in seven games.
“At least offensively we’re completely different,” Melvin said. “We have some good momentum going. The more the momentum builds, the better the at-bats get.”
Jim Thome had three hits, including his 597th home run, for the Twins, who have lost three of four. Joe Mauer added three hits and drove in a run while Danny Valencia had two hits and an RBI.
McCarthy (4-5) allowed three runs and eight hits. He did not walk a batter and won his third straight decision following a five-game losing streak.
Craig Breslow, Grant Balfour and Andrew Bailey each pitched a scoreless inning to finish it.
“To put the team in an early deficit and they come right back, it’s awesome,” McCarthy said. “It gives you a lot of confidence. We’re a good baseball team and this is how we should have been playing all year.”
The A’s set an Oakland record with their 16th straight game with at least eight hits.
“I think it says a lot for this group that the organization took both a short-term and long-term approach,” Melvin said of recent trade talks involving many of the position players. “There were no wholesale changes.”
Twins starter Carl Pavano (6-8) lasted four innings, giving up seven runs and nine hits. He is winless in four starts since the All-Star break.
“Carl just couldn’t get them out,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “They had the one inning where the ball was rolling everywhere and he didn’t do very well in the running game. He wasn’t paying enough attention to that and they ran all over him.”
The day began with Oakland players learning that popular reliever Brad Ziegler had been traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who open a series across the bay in San Francisco on Monday night.
The A’s scored six runs on seven consecutive hits in the third to erase a 3-0 deficit. Sweeney’s two-run double highlighted the outburst.
“That one inning they were running around a lot,” Pavano said. “I did a terrible job. I took the air out of the team after they gave me a 3-0 lead.”
Pavano got Scott Sizemore on a grounder to start the inning before Jemile Weeks doubled to spark the rally. Crisp, Josh Willingham, Conor Jackson and Cliff Pennington, who extended his hitting streak to 15 games, also drove in runs.
“Even if it’s just the last two months and we come up short, we still have a lot of energy here,” McCarthy said.
Ben Revere tripled on the second pitch of the game and scored when Mauer grounded out. Valencia added an RBI single to give the Twins a 2-0 edge in the first.
“It looked like we were a hit away from getting to McCarthy,” Gardenhire said. “We didn’t get the big hit and he got into a nice rhythm and shut us down.”
McCarthy kept the damage to a minimum despite allowing five hits in the inning as the Twins left the bases loaded.
“They hit some good pitches early,” Melvin said. “I thought he had good stuff the whole game.”
With two outs in the third, Thome drilled McCarthy’s pitch to left-center for his 597th career home run. With his 1,652nd RBI, he matched Tony Perez for 27th on the career list.
Thome has put together three consecutive multihit games for the first time since Aug. 28-30, 2007, at Texas. The last time he recorded more than three hits in a game was July 8, 2008.
Thome extended his hitting streak to seven games and is batting .480 (12 for 25) during that span.
NOTES: A’s OF David DeJesus (sore right thumb) entered as a defensive replacement when Sweeney was thrown out of the game (his first career ejection) by plate umpire Dan Bellino in the seventh. … Thome has hit 31 home runs against the A’s. … LHP Jordan Norberto will join the A’s in Seattle on Monday. … The A’s entered as the only team in the majors without a win against Pavano. … The A’s had at least three steals of third for the first time since April 17, 1993, at Milwaukee. … Minnesota’s Michael Cuddyer has has hit safely in 24 of his last 29 games.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)