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08/19/2008 1:17 AM EDT
Ellis homers early as Athletics cool off Twins

By Anthony Maggio
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- The way things have gone for the Oakland
A's recently, it should come as little surprise that even out of
victory came a loss.

Oakland improved to just 6-23 since the All-Star break with a
3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday at the Metrodome,
but lost starter Justin Duchscherer - one of few bright spots
this season - to a hip injury in the third inning.

Mark Ellis' leadoff home run and Kurt Suzuki's two-RBI single in
the fourth inning provided enough offense and Kirk Saarloos
pitched 3 2/3 innings of solid relief after being called up from
Class AAA Sacramento earlier in the day to help the A's win for
just the third time in their last 19 road games.

"Saarloos did a great job," Duchscherer said. "I'm glad we got
the win, but from my end its frustrating."

The Twins had their four-game winning streak snapping and lost
for just the fifth time in their last 22 home games. Starter
Nick Blackburn (9-7) did his part, allowing three runs on six
hits with two walks and two strikeouts in eight innings. He gave
a recently overworked bullpen a much-needed reprieve after it
logged 16 innings in Minnesota's previous five games.

But a few misplays and two errors behind him didn't make things
easy, and an offense that couldn't solve Duchsherer or Saarloos
ran out of chances against Oakland's bullpen.

Duchsherer, who appeared in just 17 game last season before
having season-ending surgery on his right hip on July 11, was
10-8 with a 2.59 ERA entering Monday's game. But he had lost a
career-high tying three straight contests, and said after
Monday's game that he began feeling a twinge in his hip during
his previous start and was "sore and tight" in between starts.

Saarloos allowed three hits in 2 2/3 innings, but called Suzuki
to the mound with a 2-1 count on Joe Mauer in the third frame
and left after telling manager Bob Geren and head trainer Steve
Sayles, "No way. I can't pitch through this. I can't throw.

Duchsherer will fly back to Oakland on Tuesday to meet with team
orthopedist Dr. John Frazier.

"From the day I had surgery, everything has gone perfect until
my last start when I started to feel it a little bit,"
Duchscherer said. "Which is why I'm concerned, but I'm not
overly concerned because it happened that fast. so to me its
probably just an inflammatory thing that we've got to get calmed

Saarloos (1-0) filled in admirably in his first action since
April 17, ultimately earning his first win since July 8 against
Arizona while with Cincinnati.

"With 'Duke' on the mound, the bullpen usually has a pretty low
key day," Saarloos said. "You've just got to be ready and they
needed innings out of me and I was able to provide it."

Brad Ziegler allowed a run in two innings for his third save.

Things started positive for the A's when Ellis hit the first
pitch of the game for his first leadoff homer since August 24,
2005 at Detroit. Frank Thomas walked and Jack Cust hit a double
just out of Delmon Young's reach in left field, setting up
Suzuki's two-RBI single. He now has four RBI in his last four
games after going 16 straight without driving in a run.

Both tallies were needed, as Minnesota rallied against Huston
Street and Ziegler in the eighth inning. After stranding two
runners in scoring position in the seventh, the Twins led off
the eighth with Denard Span's single, and Mauer tagged Ziegler
for a triple off the wall in left field two batters later. Mauer
was awarded home when Eric Patterson's throw to third base hit
Mauer and skidded into Minnesota's dugout.

Justin Morneau followed with a single, but Jason Kubel grounded
into a double play to end the threat.

Ziegler allowed a two-out walk in the ninth, but struck out
Brendan Harris to seal the victory.

"We feel pretty good with ourselves," Twins manager Ron
Gardenhire said. "We're not going to quit. We got back into it
and with our ballclub you feel like you'll get a big hit and tie
the ballgame up and go from there. We just couldn't come up with
one. (Ziegler) made pitches after that and I think you can all
see he's pretty nasty."

With Chicago's victory over Seattle, Minnesota fell to a game
out of first place in the AL Central Division.

The A's won in Minnesota for the first time since September 13,
2006 and are now 2-9 in their last 11 games at the Metrodome.

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