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Twins gang up on Kennedy, deal A's playoff blow

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire isn't one
for team meetings or speeches at this stage. He will send his
players out for the final 11 days of this disappointing season and
just observe who's still giving their all.

And, the skipper hopes, maybe Minnesota will shake up the
playoff picture in the process.

Michael Cuddyer homered, hit three doubles and drove in four
runs, and the Twins beat the Oakland Athletics 10-4 Wednesday to
snap a three-game skid.

The A's fell 2½ games behind first-place Los Angeles in the AL
West. The Angels beat Texas 6-5 in a late game.

"This was a good win for us," said Gardenhire, whose club is
already eliminated from postseason contention after winning the AL
Central the past three years. "To come out and score some runs and
get a lead, we haven't done that very often. It was fun. The guys
got to run the bases."

Cuddyer finished with a career-high four hits and homered
against Oakland for the fifth time this season. After his solo shot
in the second inning, he followed with three doubles for his third
career four-RBI game. He was intentionally walked in the eighth.

Matthew LeCroy added three hits and two RBI for Minnesota,
which had lost five of six. The Twins tagged Joe Kennedy in taking
a 7-0 lead in the fifth, and avoided a three-game sweep.

"Cuddyer killed us all year. He was pretty much a one-man
wrecking crew," A's manager Ken Macha said.

Scott Baker (2-2) pitched five effective innings to win for the
first time in five starts. He retired 12 of the first 14 batters he
faced, allowing a one-out single to Jay Payton in the second and a
leadoff single by Dan Johnson in the third.

Bobby Crosby returned to Oakland's lineup after sitting out
Tuesday to rest his fractured left ankle. He singled and scored in
Oakland's three-run fifth, when Jason Kendall added a two-run
double and Nick Swisher hit a sacrifice fly.

Mark Ellis homered leading off the A's eighth for his 11th of
the year.

A's center fielder Mark Kotsay became defensive when someone
suggested Oakland didn't exhibit the kind of energy most would
expect in the middle of a late-season pennant race.

"We didn't come out flat," Kotsay said. "They came out and
swung the bats well. How can a team come out flat when we know
what's on the line? It's Sept. 21 and we're 1½ games out. They
jumped out on us and never let up. They kept their foot on our neck
and never let us breathe."

Kennedy (3-4) didn't last long in his sixth start for Oakland.
He allowed six runs and five hits in 3 1-3 innings.

The lefty, who joined the A's in a trade with Colorado on July
13, began as a reliever with the team and then moved into the
rotation Aug. 27. After winning his first start at Baltimore, he
has gone 0-4 in five outings -- the losing streak is his worst since
dropping four in a row last year with the Rockies.

Kennedy's poor performance shows just how much the A's miss
right-hander Rich Harden, sidelined since Aug. 19 with a strained
muscle in the back of his throwing shoulder. Harden began the year
as the team's No. 2 starter behind Barry Zito, but he might not
pitch again this season.

The Twins loaded the bases in the third when Jason Tyner and
Jason Bartlett drew consecutive one-out walks, then LeCroy singled.
Justin Morneau drove in a run with a grounder, and Cuddyer followed
with his sharp double to left.

Cuddyer hit a solo homer in the second, his 12th. While he would
have liked to get another chance at the plate to try for five hits,
Cuddyer insists he's just determined to help the Twins finish
strong.

"We've got a lot of things to play for," he said. "We want to
finish .500."

Game notes
Twins RHP Brad Radke has officially decided to shut it down
for the year to let his troublesome throwing shoulder heal. RHP Joe
Mays, demoted to the bullpen early last month, will pitch in
Radke's place Saturday at Chicago. ... LeCroy, the Twins' DH, was
back in the lineup after missing Tuesday's game with a sore right
big toe. ... Harden's time is running out to return this year. "I
view the whole thing as the window is getting smaller," Macha
said. Harden is scheduled to pitch a simulated game Friday
following the team's day off Thursday. ... Longtime A's PA
announcer Roy Steele missed his third straight game with a throat
problem. ... A's OF Bobby Kielty should be able to start Friday
against Texas LHP Kenny Rogers. Kielty has been out since Sept. 4
with a strained right oblique muscle. ... Tyner, playing in place
of injured LF Shannon Stewart, stole his first base in the sixth on
a double steal that also included Luis Rivas' third stolen base of
the year.