OAKLAND, CALIF. - Their offense is nowhere near being as productive as it should be, and the defense continues to give away outs. But the Twins have won back-to-back one-run games on the road, which can be chicken soup for their tormented souls.
They hung in long enough Wednesday night for Oakland to hand them the winning run in the 10th on the way to a 4-3 victory. They beat Seattle 2-1 on Tuesday and have consecutive wins for the first time since May 4 and 6.
Pinch hitter Delmon Young singled to right to lead off the 10th, then went to third when Athletics first baseman Daric Barton fielded Alexi Casilla's bunt and threw it into center field while trying to go for the force play at second.
One out later, Young scored on a sacrifice fly by Trevor Plouffe.
"Well, we've played a lot of close games and have not come out on top enough," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Tonight, we had some big hits, we had to execute, and we had to make some big pitches."
This came after the Twins experienced more of those moments that have doomed them over and over this season. It occurred with two outs in the second inning, when starter Carl Pavano failed to cover first base on a grounder to second and a throwing error by Plouffe kept Oakland's inning alive. The A's turned the mistake into two runs for a 2-1 lead -- and some Twins players had that here-we-go again look on their faces.
The Twins have been in that situation more times in seven weeks than they would care to be in an entire season, which is why this season has been like no other since Gardenhire took over as manager in 2002. The Twins give away outs and opponents often capitalize when they do.
But on Wednesday, the Twins kept playing.
They retaliated in the top of the third. Casilla led off with an infield single and smartly advanced to third on Denard Span's double to left.
That brought up Plouffe, and he atoned for his error with a two-run single to center that gave the Twins a 3-2 lead.
Pavano tried to shake off his mistake with three scoreless innings. He was putting the ball where he wanted it, meaning he was able to set up hitters and keep them off balance. Pavano looked more like the pitcher who won 17 games a year ago than the one who entered Wednesday with an ERA near 6.00 and who admittedly was second-guessing himself on the mound.
Then he made a mistake to start the sixth. Barton banged a double off the wall in right, then advanced to third on a flyout. Hideki Matsui, a steady run producer his entire career in two continents, lined a single to right on the first pitch, tying the score at 3-3.
Pavano left after seven innings with a solid line: three runs, one earned on six hits with no walks.
Glen Perkins and his newfound power replaced Pavano in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff single to Cliff Pennington, but forced Pennington out at second on David DeJesus' sacrifice attempt, a close play that replays showed was correct.
Perkins went on to pitch a scoreless eighth, then got the first out of the ninth before Joe Nathan came on. He promptly gave up a double to Kurt Suzuki and intentionally walked Ryan Sweeney.
Behind 3-0 to Mark Ellis, Nathan rallied for a strikeout. Behind 2-0 to Connor Jackson, Nathan got a groundout to end the inning, and for his efforts, he was rewarded his first victory since Aug. 21, 2009.
"He made some great pitches, which is what we're looking to see out of Nathan in some big spots," Gardenhire said.