Ellis homers as A’s top Twins 6-2
MINNEAPOLIS – Facing Joe Mauer in the first inning of his second career start, Bobby Cramer braced himself when the reigning AL MVP sent a liner back up the middle.
The ball hit Cramer’s right leg, and he hurriedly picked it up and threw Mauer out at first.
“They’re going to have to do more than that to get me out of the game,” the 30-year-old Oakland rookie said.
Cramer earned his second consecutive win and Mark Ellis had three hits, helping the Athletics beat the Minnesota Twins 6-2 on Sunday.
Besides the game, the AL Central-leading Twins also lost Mauer to a balky left knee. Mauer tweaked the knee while swinging when he grounded out in the sixth and was replaced defensively by Jose Morales in the seventh.
“We’re going to see how it is the next couple of days and go from there,” Mauer said.
Cramer (2-0) faced a much tougher lineup than he did in his big league debut last week at Kansas City. He was working on a three-hitter before Michael Cuddyer and Jim Thome went deep in the sixth.
The left-hander departed after Thome’s two-out drive, but Brad Ziegler, Michael Wuertz and Craig Breslow combined for 3 1-3 innings of one-hit ball.
“It was a better test,” Cramer said. “There are some great hitters on that team and there were some fun at-bats, too. … It’s fun to face guys who are going to be in the Hall of Fame. Good lineup to face.”
Ellis and Akinori Iwamura each scored twice and drove in a pair of runs against Francisco Liriano (14-8), who lost for the first time since July 9 at Detroit. The lefty is 8-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his last 12 starts.
Iwamura hit a two-run single in Oakland’s three-run first and Ellis went deep with two out in the fifth, hitting a 3-1 pitch into the seats in left-center to make it 5-0.
“It was good to come in here against a good team,” Ellis said. “We know they rested some guys, they had a couple of guys out of the lineup, but that’s still a good team. To come in here and win the series was huge.”
Liriano didn’t get much sleep the previous night thanks to a rash, but said his long night didn’t affect his performance.
“Liriano just didn’t have his stuff it looked like today,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He was misfiring basically from the get-go.”
The A’s added an unearned run in the ninth after Gabe Gross’ grounder went between shortstop J.J. Hardy’s legs. Gross scored two batters later on Rajai Davis’ single.
Gardenhire was ejected in the fourth after Thome hit into a bizarre double play. Davis appeared to drop Thome’s fly ball to center, but replays showed he made the catch before dropping the ball as he prepared to throw to second. Delmon Young, who went to second on the apparent drop, was subsequently called out for not tagging up at first.
The manager pointed out that second-base umpire John Hirschbeck initially called Young safe at second after the throw.
“I think they understand that something was really screwed up out there,” Gardenhire said. “Delmon had nowhere to go.”
NOTES: A’s rookie Chris Carter went 0 for 3 and is hitless in all 32 of his major league at-bats. … Oakland 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff took batting practice as he attempts to return from back spasms. Manager Bob Geren said he is improving, but how Kouzmanoff feels Monday will help determine when he returns. … Twins rookie Ben Revere picked up his first two major league hits. … Gardenhire confirmed Scott Baker will start Tuesday against Cleveland to give the rest of the rotation an extra day of rest. Baker has recently been bothered by tendinitis in his right elbow. … Twins CF Denard Span (shoulder) was held out of the lineup for a third straight game as a precaution, although he took batting practice and Gardenhire said he would be available to play if needed. RF Jason Kubel (wrist) also took some swings and rested.