Liam Hendriks took the mound with a 20 2/3 inning scoreless streak — which would soon end.
The A’s relief ace gave up two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, blowing the save in a 7-6 loss to the Minnesota Twins. The A’s headed to Houston with a split of the four-game series.
After falling to an early 4-0 deficit, Oakland climbed into the lead on a series of doubles inches away from leaving the ballpark, spirited at bats and a couple of sac flies.
Down a run in the eighth inning, Robbie Grossman drew a one-out walk and pinch hitter Chris Herrmann knocked an RBI double off the right-center wall. Twins outfielder Marwin Gonzalez stumbled to let Grossman cross home easily. Josh Phegley’s sac fly scored the go-ahead run. It was not enough.
Daniel Mengden toed the rubber having walked just one batter and toting a 3.38 ERA over four straight victories. But Minnesota’s lineup provided a new test for the 26-year-old. Mengden issued five walks in his 3 1/3 inning outing — his shortest start of the season.
The offense has had little success against Twins starter Michael Pineda. Only Marcus Semien has recorded an extra-base hit against the right-hander. The A’s were equally anemic against him Sunday; Matt Olson singled off the wall in the first inning to extend his hit streak to 16 games, but was hosed down trying to stretch the hit into a double.
Oakland would create some traffic and noise on the base paths in the fifth. Jurickson Profar drew a walk and Phegley hit his first home run since June 19, cutting the Twins’ lead in half.
Wei-Chung Wang loaded the bases in the fifth inning with no outs, but let his defense salvage a potential disaster. Matt Olson turned a 3-2 double play, gunning down Luis Arraez down at home before Jorge Polanco lined out to Matt Chapman to end the threat.
Chad Pinder’s sac fly made good on a Khris Davis walk and Grossman double in the sixth.
The Twins threatened a sixth inning rally, but Semien and Pinder extinguished it with an odds-defying defensive play. Semiem robbed Luis Arraez with a diving stop and flipped to Pinder, who managed to scrape a foot across second base for the inning-ending out.
Semien made another spectacular defensive play in the eighth, robbing Nelson Cruz of a potential game-tying RBI single.
But the Twins had more fight saved up for the ninth. Hendriks gave up a one-out single to Arraez, followed by a triple by Ehire Adrianza. With two outs, Max Kepler singled for the walk-off winner.