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Late Friday: Twins mark 50th win of season against A's

Sports Xchange OAKLAND, Calif. -- Second baseman Brian Dozier led off the second half of the season with a home run, third baseman Trevor Plouffe belted a grand slam, and right-hander Ervin Santana pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings to lift the Minnes...

Twins
Minnesota Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe (24) hit a grand slam home run during the sixth inning off Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray in Oakland, Calif., on Friday. (Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports)

Sports Xchange
OAKLAND, Calif. - Second baseman Brian Dozier led off the second half of the season with a home run, third baseman Trevor Plouffe belted a grand slam, and right-hander Ervin Santana pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings to lift the Minnesota Twins to a 5-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series.
The win was the Twins’ 50th of the season, making them the second team in the American League and fifth in the majors to hit the milestone.
Minnesota’s seventh win in its last eight games came at the expense of A’s All-Star Sonny Gray, who gave up both home runs and five runs in all in six innings.
The Twins never trailed after Dozier, who homered in his only plate appearance at the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, smacked Gray’s sixth pitch over the wall in left field for his 20th home run of the season.
The game-opening blast was Dozier’s fifth homer of the year and 12th of his career.
The game settled into a 1-0 pitchers’ duel until two walks got Gray into trouble in the sixth.
The walks to Dozier and designated hitter Miguel Sano sandwiched a single by center fielder Torii Hunter set the stage for Plouffe.
Down 0-2 in the count, Plouffe found the same spot as Dozier just above the left-field wall for a grand slam that broke the game open.
The slam was the second of Plouffe’s career. The home run was his 12th of the season.
Gray (10-4) was done at the end of the inning after giving five hits and three walks in six innings. He struck out four.
The five-run lead was plenty sufficient for Santana and left-handed reliever Brian Duensing, who got the final four outs.
Making just his third start of the season after a PED-related suspension, Santana (1-0) was pulled with two on and two outs in the eighth after having thrown 103 pitches. He gave up five hits and one walk with one strikeout.
The win was Santana’s first as a Twin. He’s now 13-6 in July starts in the last six seasons.
Duensing got pinch-hitter Jake Smolinski to line out to center field to end the eighth and preserve the shutout. He then retired the A’s in order in the ninth.
Plouffe, Hunter and left fielder Eddie Rosario had two hits for the Twins, who were opening a six-game California swing.
The Twins have now beaten the A’s in four of five meetings this season, outscoring them 33-14.
Center fielder Billy Burns had a single and a stolen base for the A’s, who are the only team in the AL with 50 or more losses. At 41-51, Oakland has the worst record in the AL.
The A’s were outhit 8-5 in the opener of a six-game homestand.
Gray retired 11 in a row from the second through fifth inning, but the A’s managed only three baserunners against Santana during that stretch, all in the same inning.
An inning-opening error by Dozier on a grounder by third baseman Brett Lawrie gave the A’s a chance in the bottom of the third. But after a one-out single by shortstop Marcus Semien, the All-Star second baseman redeemed himself.
Dozier ranged far to his right in short center field to track down a Stephen Vogt single with two outs, allowing Lawrie to advance only from second base to third.
Santana then got A’s left fielder Ben Zobrist to pop out to first base, leaving the bases loaded and keeping Minnesota’s lead at 1-0.
Plouffe’s sixth-inning grand slam made it 5-0.

NOTES: The A’s first 22 games after the All-Star break are all scheduled to be played in the state of California: 17 at home, three at San Francisco and two at Los Angeles. ... Friday’s matchup with the A’s was the first of just 28 games the Twins have remaining against 2014 playoff teams. ... Twins RHP Ricky Nolasco underwent what was labeled successful surgery on his right ankle over the break. He is expected to miss the rest of the season. ... The Twins lost the rights to University of Kentucky RHP Kyle Cody, the No. 73 overall selection of the June draft, after failing to sign him by Friday’s deadline. In compensation, Minnesota will receive the No. 74 overall pick in 2016. ... A’s RHP Jesse Hahn, who went on the disabled list on July 11 (retroactive to July 6) with a strained flexor tendon in his right arm, disclosed before Friday’s game that he’s been told he’ll be out at least a month.

Minnesota 5, Oakland 0

MIN    ab    r    h    bi    OAK    ab    r    h    bi

Dozier 2b    4    2    1    1    Burns cf    4    0    1    0
Hunter rf    5    1    2    0    Vogt c    4    0    1    0
Mauer 1b    4    0    1    0    Zobrist lf    3    0    1    0
Sano dh    3    1    0    0    Reddick rf    3    0    0    0
Plouffe 3b    4    1    2    4    Smolnsk ph    1    0    0    0
Rosario lf    4    0    2    0    Butler dh    4    0    0    0
Hicks cf    3    0    0    0    Davis 1b    3    0    0    0
Suzuki c    4    0    0    0    Canha ph    1    0    0    0
Santana ss    4    0    0    0    Lawrie 3b    4    0    1    0
                    Sogard 2b    3    0    0    0
                    Semien ss    3    0    1    0
Totals    35    5    8    5    Totals    33    0    5    0
Minnesota     100 004 000 - 5
Oakland     000 000 000 - 0
E-Dozier 1, Lawrie 1. LOB-Oakland 7, Minnesota 6. HR-Dozier (20), Plouffe (12). SB-Burns (18), E.Rosario (8). CS-E.Rosario (5).
    IP    H    R    ER    BB    SO
Minnesota
E.Santana W, 1-0    7 2-3    5    0    0    1    1
Duensing    1 1-3    0    0    0    0    1
Oakland
Gray L, 10-4    6    5    5    5    3    4
Otero    1    2    0    0    0    3
Abad    1    1    0    0    0    0
Fe.Rodriguez    1    0    0    0    0    2
Inherited runners-scored-Duensing 2-0. WP-E.Santana (1).
Umpires-Home, Tom Hallion; First, Dan Bellino; Second, Gabe Morales; Third, Alfonso Marquez.
T-2:42. A-23,462 (35,067)

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