MINNEAPOLIS - MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Sonny Gray had his good stuff on Wednesday at Target Field, finding ways to wiggle out of jams while pitching six solid innings for the Oakland Athletics.
Even that wasn't enough to stop a personal losing streak that has stretched on for more than two months.
Ervin Santana struck out eight and walked none in a two-hitter that led the Minnesota Twins over the Oakland Athletics 4-0.
Gray (3-8) gave up one run, six hits and four walks in six innings, losing his seventh straight decision, the longest active skid in the American League. Billy Butler's two-out double in the fifth and Stephen Vogt's leadoff single in the eighth Oakland's lone hits.
"Probably the best mix of pitches we've seen in a while," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. "He threw quite a few changeups, curveball, slider, moving fastballs, some cutters, really a good array of pitches. Unfortunately, they just fouled a lot of them off."
And Santana was even better.
Santana (3-7) pitched his eighth shutout and 15th complete game, helping the Twins take two of three from the A's. Joe Mauer had three hits and an RBI.
The bleary-eyed clubs were back at it on Wednesday less than 12 hours after finishing a rain-delayed game that started at 9:52 p.m.
Both teams appeared to be swinging heavy bats, and Gray stranded 12 runners, holding the Twins to 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
He gave up an RBI-double to Mauer in the fifth, but held the Twins at bay for the rest of his start.
"Mentally, I was just trying to stay aggressive," said Gray, who has not won since April 22. "There were times to challenge guys and times not to. The times he told me to go challenge guys I was able to do that a little bit more."
Santana frustrated Oakland's hitters all afternoon. Josh Reddick slammed his bat in anger after popping out to the catcher in the fourth inning and Khris Davis did the same after a strikeout in the seventh.
The A's didn't record a hit until Butler's double in the fifth.
"We had some good at-bats off him at times and we had some non-competitive at-bats," Vogt said. "When a pitcher has his stuff and you don't have consistent at-bats against him it's going to be hard to win. He was very, very good today."
While mired in the losing streak, Gray walked out of the ballpark on Wednesday in his final start before the All-Star break feeling a sense of momentum that the A's hope can carry over into the second half of the season.
"He's shown signs of it all year," Vogt said. "It's not like he's been awful all year. It's been kind of a big inning has gotten him. I think that was kind of a turning point today for him, in my opinion."
The Athletics have lost six of their last seven games and are 23-37 since May 1, the worst record in baseball. And they were just outplayed in a series by a team that was has been jockeying with Atlanta for the worst record in the majors all season.
"This is a place we hit," Melvin said. "I was surprised. I thought we'd swing the bats well here. ... I was a little surprised we didn't do as well over the course of three games."
Oakland's bullpen entered with a 5.63 ERA in its 22 games. Opponents were hitting .312 off of A's relievers, and they had another rough day on Wednesday.
Marc Rzepczynski was charged with two runs on one hit and didn't record an out in the seventh inning. And John Axford didn't give him any help when he walked Max Kepler with the bases loaded and gave up a sacrifice fly to Eddie Rosario to give Santana some breathing room.
Athletics: RHP Fernando Rodriguez was played on the disabled list after an MRI revealed a strained rotator cuff. Manager Bob Melvin said there is no timetable for a return, but he would not need surgery.
Twins: SS Eduardo Escobar was available after missing the last two games with a strained hamstring.
Athletics: LHP Rich Hill (8-3, 2.31) will start the series opener at Houston on Thursday.
Twins: Minnesota opens a four-game series in Texas on Thursday, sending RHP Tyler Duffey (4-6, 4.62) to the mound against RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (0-1, 9.53).