The Minnesota Twins didn't have a three-game losing streak all season heading into the All-Star break, but the AL Central leaders will try to avoid their second three-game losing since then when they conclude their four-game series with the streaking Oakland A's on Sunday in Minneapolis.
Oakland, which has won eight of its last nine and is 21-6 over its last 27 games, bounced back from a tough 6-3 loss in Thursday night's series opener, which featured a game-winning pinch-hit three-run home run by Eddie Rosario.
The A's won the next two games, including a dramatic 5-4 victory on Saturday night highlighted by a two-out, two-run, go-ahead single by Khris Davis in the ninth inning.
The Twins had a chance to pull it out in the bottom of the ninth when they loaded the bases with one out. But All-Star reliever and former Twin Liam Hendriks got Mitch Garver to ground into a double play to end the game.
"When you do battle back, and end up losing a game, yeah, sure, it's definitely disappointing," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. "To stand up here and say it's not would be lying."
"Nothing comes easy," third baseman said Miguel Sano, who hit his 14th home run of the season in the loss, a 443-foot drive into the third deck in left field. "We fight every day, and we play and compete."
Despite the loss, the Twins remained three games ahead of the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central.
Minnesota will turn to right-hander Michael Pineda (6-5, 4.38 ERA) to pitch Sunday afternoon's finale. Oakland, which has a key three-game series at AL West-leading Houston starting Monday night, will counter with right-hander Daniel Mengden (5-1, 4.21).
Pineda has been steady for Minnesota in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, allowing more than three runs in a game just once in his last 12 starts. He is 4-1 with a 2.75 ERA in six career starts against Oakland.
Mengden will be making his first career start at Target Field and is 1-0 with a 7.94 ERA in one start against the Twins. He has won his last four starts.
Saturday night's comeback win increased Oakland's lead for the second wild card spot to two games over Tampa Bay. The A's are just one percentage point out of the first wild card spot behind the Indians and 5 1/2 games behind Houston in the AL West.
"To come back, especially in the ninth against this team, overall it was probably the best win of the year," pitcher Brett Anderson said.
"It's certainly a game that felt most like a playoff atmosphere," added Mark Canha, who hit a two-run homer and also started Oakland's ninth-inning rally when he was hit by a pitch. "That's a great team over there. You can see why their record is so good. It was a crazy game. Yeah, that's a big one just to know that we can win a game like that."
"It was a pretty spirited game overall," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin. "Both sides back and forth. About as close a game as you can get."
--Field Level Media
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