OAKLAND, Calif. -- Right-hander Jarrod Parker got back on track and the Oakland A's closed in on their second consecutive American League West title with a 9-1 victory on Saturday afternoon over the Minnesota Twins.
The A's clinched a tie for first in the division and reduced their magic number to win the West to one. One more A's win or one more Texas Rangers loss, and the Athletics can start celebrating and planning their 25th trip to postseason in franchise history and 17th since moving to Oakland.
Parker was coming off a 12-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels that snapped his career-high nine-game winning streak and 19-start unbeaten streak, the longest in Oakland history and longest by an A's pitcher since Lefty Grove's 21-start streak without a loss in 1931.
This time, Parker (12-7) went to work after a two-hour, one-minute rain delay and gave up one run and four hits in six innings. He struck out one, tying his season low, walked one and threw 93 pitches, 56 for strikes.
The A's continued hitting home runs at a startling rate. Alberto Callaspo hit a two-run homer during a five-run fifth, Kurt Suzuki lined a two-run shot in the seventh and Yoenis Cespedes crushed a solo shot in the eighth. The A's have hit 65 home runs in their past 42 games, by far the most in the majors during that span.
Callaspo paced the A's 16-hit attack, going 4-for-5 with three RBIs and matching his career high for hits. Jed Lowrie went 3-for-4 with a double. Cespedes went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and scored twice.
Twins catcher Josmil Pinto hit his third home run of the season, a solo shot leading off the fifth inning against Parker.
Twins left-hander Pedro Hernandez lasted only two innings, allowing six runs and eight hits. He struck out one, walked one and threw 52 pitches, 28 for strikes.
Oakland opened a 3-0 lead in the series against Minnesota and will go for the sweep Sunday afternoon.
The A's took command early, scoring one run in the first inning and five in the second to build a 6-0 lead
In the first, Lowrie singled with one out, moved to second on Josh Donaldson's single then scored from third on Callaspo's two-out single.
A's rookie Michael Choice led off the bottom of the second with an infield single and raced to second on shorstop Pedro Florimon's throwing error. Choice advanced to third on Daric Barton's single to right and scored on Chris Young's sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
Donaldson lined a two-out double off the left-field wall, moving Barton to third, and Cespedes ripped a two-run single to left, increasing the A's lead to 4-0. Callaspo made it 6-0, crushing a two-run shot into the left field seats, his ninth home run of the season and fourth since being traded to the A's by the Los Angeles Angels.
Pinto cut the A's lead to 6-1 with his solo home run in the fifth, but Suzuki made it 8-1 in the seventh with his fifth homer of the season and second with the A's, a two-run shot off Liam Hendriks. Cespedes took Hendriks deep with two outs in the eighth.
NOTES: Athletics CF Coco Crisp was a late scratch from the starting lineup. Young moved from left field to center, and Choice started in left. ... Donaldson reached base safely for the 26th straight game. ... Cespedes (right shoulder tendinitis) was in the lineup at designated hitter again and has yet to throw since receiving a cortisone shot on Wednesday. A's manager Bob Melvin said Cespedes probably won't play in the outfield until the A's final regular-season series at Seattle (Sept. 27-29) at the earliest. ... Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe (strained left wrist) returned to the lineup after missing Friday night's game. He left Thursday's game after striking out in the top of the eighth inning and tweaking his wrist, which he said has been sore off and on for much of the season.
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- Yoenis Cespedes