MINNEAPOLIS — Mitch Garver didn’t have time for any warmup swings, summoned as an injury replacement for Minnesota in the fourth inning.
After two strikes by Oakland starter Trevor Cahill, that’s when Garver found his groove.
With a two-run, pinch-hit double by Garver , the Twins overtook Cahill on their way to a 6-4 victory Thursday night that gave the Athletics consecutive losses for only the second time in more than two months.
“It’s the hardest thing to do in any sport, come into a baseball game and pinch hit cold off the rack,” said Garver, who’d never before faced Cahill.
Even still, Garver gave the Twins a 4-2 lead with his big hit after catcher Bobby Wilson sprained his right ankle backing up first base in the top of the inning.
The A’s haven’t been cold all summer, so they’ll face a mild test in trying to recover. Having lost Wednesday afternoon to last-place Texas, Oakland dropped 1 1/2 games behind AL West-leading Houston. The A’s are four games ahead of Seattle for the second wild card.
“They don’t really worry about what happened the day before,” Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve been on a nice little roll. When they take the field, no matter who we’re playing or who we’re starting, they feel like we’re going to win.”
The A’s are 42-16 since June 16. Their only other losing streak since the turnaround began that day was a three-game sweep by Colorado from July 27-29.
“Use it as motivation,” catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. “I don’t think there’s any other way to take it.”
Joe Mauer drove in Garver with a single that tied him with Rod Carew for second on the club’s career hits list. It was Minnesota’s fourth straight hit against Cahill (5-3), who took his first defeat since May 16.
The A’s lost with Cahill on the mound for the first time since June 2. He spent most of June and part of July on the disabled list.
“They’ve got a tough lineup over there, and they put together some good at-bats,” Cahill said. “Sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap. They made me work.”
Khris Davis moved into the major league lead with his 39th home run , a no-doubt drive to start the second inning against Twins starter Kohl Stewart, who lasted until the fifth. Stewart threw two wild pitches that contributed to A’s runs, one in the fifth that allowed Matt Chapman to chug home.
Alan Busenitz (4-0), the first of five Twins relievers, gave up a single to Marcus Semien later in that inning that Eddie Rosario fielded in shallow left field. Rosario threw out Matt Olson trying to score from second to end the inning with the Twins leading 5-3, with an assist to Garver for disguising the arrival of the ball.
Trevor Hildenberger shook off Jed Lowrie’s two-out homer in the ninth to finish his fourth save in as many opportunities since closer Fernando Rodney was traded to the A’s two weeks ago.
“It’s kind of the mystery ‘pen,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “You don’t really know when you’re going to pitch.”
Not so much for the A’s, who’ve bolstered an already strong bullpen for the stretch run.
The last sign this wasn’t their night came in the eighth when All-Star closer Blake Treinen, who had not allowed a home run over his previous 58 innings since Justin Upton connected April 6 for the Angels, was taken deep by Max Kepler. Treinen had pitched 12 scoreless innings since July 21.
DINGERS FOR DAVIS
Davis hit his fifth home run in the last five games. That put him within one of becoming only the second player in A’s history to go deep 40 or more times in three straight years and joining Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx, who did so from 1932-34 when the franchise was located in Philadelphia. Mark McGwire (1987, 1992, 1996) is the only other A’s player with three 40-homer seasons.
Mauer, who has 2,085 career hits, trails all-time Twins leader Kirby Puckett by 219. Carew, who amassed 3,053 career hits after playing his final seven years with the Angels, spent 12 seasons with the Twins, like Puckett. This is Mauer’s 15th year with the club. Mauer is also one run short of becoming the third Twins player since the franchise arrived in Minnesota in 1961 to reach 1,000 runs with the team.
Athletics: LF Matt Joyce, on the DL with a lower back strain for a second time this season, will play every other day on his rehab assignment as a precaution.
Twins: 3B Miguel Sano, rested for the second time in 25 games since returning from his reconditioning assignment in the minor leagues, is in an 0-for-14 slide.
Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea (11-9, 3.70 ERA) pitches Friday night against the Twins. He gave up six runs over four innings in his last start, a loss at Houston that marked the first time in 14 turns he’d allowed more than three runs.
Twins: RHP Jake Odorizzi (5-7, 4.55) takes the mound in the second game of the series. He has logged only 18 2/3 innings over four starts in August.