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Updated: September 17th, 2010 9:45pm
Fresh off sweep of Chicago, Twins drop opener to Oakland, 3-1

Fresh off sweep of Chicago, Twins drop opener to Oakland, 3-1

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Twins returned home on Friday night after a critical three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox, but the result wasn't favorable. The Oakland Athletics came away with a 3-1 victory over Nick Blackburn and company.

The Twins offense - without Joe Mauer (rest), Jason Kubel (wrist) and Denard Span (shoulder) -- struggled for most of the night against Oakland starter Brett Anderson, who allowed one earned run on four hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking one.

The Twins (88-59) made things interesting while trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with two outs. Joe Mauer came in to pinch hit for catcher Drew Butera, but Oakland left-hander and former Twin Craig Breslow induced a weak fly out to left field.

Blackburn wasn't at his best on Friday night, but he held Oakland to three earned runs on eight hits and a walk over seven innings. Blackburn also induced 16 groundball outs to just three fly ball outs, while striking out one.

The A's jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning on a sacrifice fly by Rajai Davis. They added another run in the fifth inning on a two-out RBI single by Mark Ellis to make it 2-0.

Danny Valencia's third home run of the season cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, but Jack Cust's 12th - a towering blast into the left-field seats - put the A's up 3-1.

Ben Revere made his first major league start, replacing the injured Denard Span (shoulder) in centerfield. He went 0-for-3 with three groundouts to the pitcher and a walk.

"I was a little nervous out there," Revere said. "(After) the first swing, all the butter flies went out. But it was good."

Regaring Anderson, who is considered one of the best young lefties in baseball, Revere smiled and said, "He's pretty good. He's spotting it up pretty good."

The loss really only delays the inevitable for the Twins, who still lead the White Sox by nine games in the American League Central. Chicago lost to Detroit on Friday night, 9-2.

RHP Kevin Slowey (12-6, 4.24) is scheduled to face LHP Dallas Braden (9-12, 3.56) on Saturday at noon.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd