Marcus Semien’s second big swing of the day finally gave the Oakland Athletics some breathing room in an oh-so-tight series with the AL Central-leading Twins.
Semien hit a grand slam in the eighth inning after his tying homer leading off the fifth, Chris Herrmann had a career-high four hits, and the A’s beat Minnesota 7-2 on Thursday for a winning series in a matchup of contenders.
“We had two grand slams this series,” said Semien, who followed up a slam by Herrmann on Tuesday night. “That’s the best you can do. We’ve hit a lot of home runs, but just haven’t had people on base when we do it. That’s been our struggle.”
Semien sent the first pitch from Mike Morin over the wall in left-center for his 13th homer of the year and fourth career grand slam. He matched his career high with five RBIs, also done last year, while notching his fifth two-homer game and second this season.
Wei-Chung Wang (1-0) pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief for his first career win in 34 appearances over parts of three major league seasons — and it was a timely outing by the Taiwanese lefty on a day the A’s bullpen was thin after a 4-3, 12-inning loss Wednesday night.
“He earned it,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Wang got a celebratory beer shower afterward, and it meant so much after his journey.
“This is what I’m happiest about,” he said. “Last year when I was pitching in Korea, I wasn’t sure I’d make it back here to the big leagues.”
Ehire Adrianza’s single with two outs in the top of the fifth had put Minnesota ahead after he reached on a bases-loaded catcher’s interference in the first to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.
Semien’s first drive of the day gave the A’s a home run in nine straight games. Oakland went ahead on Mark Canha’s groundout four batters late.
Jose Berrios (8-5) allowed three runs and six hits in five innings with two strikeouts and three walks to lose his second straight start and third consecutive decision.
The right-hander remains winless against the A’s in four career starts. Berrios earned his second straight All-Star nod Wednesday, when he was added to the AL roster to replace Jake Odorizzi after his teammate had to pull out because of a blister.
The Twins endured their first losing road trip of 2019 at 2-4.
“We have very few guys that I would say are at full strength right now, so our guys are going out there and giving it everything they have,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Obviously we didn’t win as many games on this trip as we’d like. We were in a lot of these games, even under circumstances that were far less than ideal.”
Herrmann’s two-out single in the fourth tied the game at 1. The Twins went ahead in the first inning when Nelson Cruz and Luis Arraez hit back-to-back singles with two outs then Miguel Sano loaded the bases on a walk before the catcher’s interference forced home a run.
Oakland right-hander Tanner Anderson is still searching for his first win of the year but pitched well after being sick this week, allowing two runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings in his fifth career start. Anderson had been battling a bad cold in recent days.
The A’s have an eight-game winning streak on July 4, last losing on Independence Day in 2011 at Seattle.
Twins: DH Marwin Gonzalez missed a second straight game after he was a late scratch Wednesday with a bruised right big toe he hurt fouling a ball off the foot Tuesday night. “He’s doing better,” Baldelli said. “After a couple of days he’s going to be OK to get out there. He’s available but he is sore and we just want to let him heal up as opposed to putting him out there, forcing it and causing something else to happen that we don’t want to happen.”
Athletics: OF Chad Pinder, who turned an ankle pregame Wednesday when he stepped on a screen while taking groundballs, was still sore though Melvin expected him to be fine to start Friday against the Mariners as Oakland faces three straight lefties. … C Nick Hundley (knee surgery, back) will travel Friday to Arizona tomorrow to get some more rehab work and do baseball activities, hopeful of starting a rehab assignment in about 10 days. … Top prospect LHP Jesus Luzardo, who came out of his start for Triple-A Las Vegas after four innings Tuesday and an MRI exam revealed a Grade 2 lat strain on the left side, had been “very close” to being called up to the big leagues before the setback, Melvin said.
LHP Martin Perez (7-3, 4.15 ERA) pitches the opener Friday of a weekend series against Texas with two days of extra rest as the Twins return home. The A’s start LHP Brett Anderson (8-5, 3.92) at Seattle on Friday night. He is 9-5 with a 2.34 ERA in 21 career outings and 20 starts vs. the Mariners.
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