OAKLAND -- The Twins have seemingly had their fair share of bad breaks this season.
But finally, they were able to come through and capitalize on a mistake, as A's first baseman Daric Barton made a crucial error in the 10th inning, and the Twins took advantage by scoring the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Trevor Plouffe in a 4-3 win over the A's on Wednesday at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Barton simply airmailed a throw to second base on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Alexi Casilla -- after a pinch-hit single from Delmon Young -- to put runners at second and third. Plouffe didn't disappoint, as he lifted a sac fly to right field to plate the go-ahead run that held up, as Matt Capps notched his seventh save to preserve their second straight win.
"We've been playing an awful lot of close ballgames and not coming out on top enough," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Whether it's one-run [wins], we're just in the mode where we just want to win games and series. And we had a really nice win last night, and we bounced back today against a good team we always seem to have a lot of battles with."
Plouffe was certainly able to battle and drove home a career-high three runs, despite making a mistake of his own in the second inning on a throwing error that led to two unearned runs.
But it was the final run he drove home that was the biggest, as he lifted a 1-0 changeup from former Minnesota left-hander Brian Fuentes into right field to score Young, who had a big hit to open the inning despite starting out the game on the bench for the second straight night after being hitless in his previous 12 at-bats.
"I was just looking for a ball over the plate, because with the infield in there are so many holes in the infield, and so many things you can do with the ball," Plouffe said of his final at-bat. "The first changeup was high and slow, and I missed, and the second one I was able to time a little better."
But Plouffe wouldn't have had that chance if it weren't for a little bit of luck for the Twins, as Fuentes and Barton were both a little too aggressive on Casilla's bunt attempt and nearly collided, forcing Barton to throw high to second base,
"It looked like both Fuentes and Barton went for it," A's manager Bob Geren said. "It kinda landed close to where either one could catch it, and Barton spun and threw and I think their bodies were a little bit close together and it might have affected the throw. They were both doing their jobs. That's a tough play to fall behind on, but I never believe one play here or there necessarily wins a game when we play 27 outs, or even 30, as we did tonight."
It came after a solid effort from right-hander Carl Pavano, who tossed seven effective innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits and no walks along with two strikeouts.
So even though he was stuck with a no-decision, Pavano was more than happy with the way things went.
"It's a win," Pavano said. "The guys played great. We got those runs and we let them back into the ballgame, but our relievers shut them down and we got that extra run and Capps closed it out. I'll take that every time."
The Twins struck first with a run against A's right-hander Brandon McCarthy in the opening frame, as Jason Kubel doubled with two outs and scored on a single from Justin Morneau.
But the A's came back with two runs in the second, keyed by a throwing error by Plouffe at shortstop that allowed Mark Ellis to reach second and Ryan Sweeney, who singled with one out, to advance to third. Kevin Kouzmanoff helped the A's capitalize on the error with a two-run single to left field.
Minnesota, however, regained the lead in the third, when Casilla led off with a single and went to third on a double by Span. Plouffe was then able to redeem himself by plating two runs with a bouncing single to center field.
"That's what you want," Plouffe said of bouncing back from his error. "I was fortunate [to] come up with less than two outs with runners at second and third, and I was able to do that twice tonight. Obviously, it's in the back of your mind, but I'm not sure I was thinking about [that] the whole time."
Oakland tied the ballgame up in the sixth on an RBI single by Hideki Matsui that scored Barton, who doubled off the right-field wall to open the inning.
And they threatened to score in the bottom of the ninth against right-hander Joe Nathan, after he entered with one out in relief of Glen Perkins, who tossed 1 1/3 scoreless frames.
Nathan immediately gave up a double to Kurt Suzuki before intentionally walking Ryan Sweeney, but was able to strike out Mark Ellis looking and induce pinch-hitter Conor Jackson to ground out to quall the potential rally.
Nathan picked up his first win since Aug. 21, 2009, and in the process the Twins also won consecutive games for the first time since winning three straight May 3-6.
"As easy you can lose games, you can win games," Plouffe said. "We lost nine in a row, and who's to say we can't go out there and win nine games in a row. That's our mindset right now."