Oakland tops Twins, 3-1

MINNEAPOLIS -- Don't confuse Ryan Dull's surname with the job he's done out of the bullpen this season for the Oakland Athletics. His performance so far in 2016 has been anything but.Dull stranded a pair of runners in the seventh inning on Monday...

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Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier flips the ball to second base to begin a double play during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics Monday at Target Field. (Photo by Jeffrey Becker / USA TODAY Sports)

MINNEAPOLIS - Don’t confuse Ryan Dull’s surname with the job he’s done out of the bullpen this season for the Oakland Athletics. His performance so far in 2016 has been anything but.
Dull stranded a pair of runners in the seventh inning on Monday to help preserve a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Oakland starter Kendall Graveman was solid through 6 2/3 innings, getting the first two outs of his final frame on just three pitches. But a walk and a single ended his day with the A’s clinging to a two-run lead and the tying run on first.
Dull entered and executed his job flawlessly, coaxing a ground out by Eduardo Nunez to end the inning. The right-hander, who made his majors debut last season, stranded the 35th and 36th runners he has inherited this season, the longest streak to start a season in the expansion era (1961).
“I’d buy him a drink but I don’t know if he’s old enough,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
Listed at 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, Dull only looks like he’s underage. But to Melvin, the diminutive reliever has certainly come up big.
“(It’s) extremely significant,” Melvin said. “I don’t know that there is (a stat) more significant. Guys are coming in the games to pick up someone else’s baserunners, that’s the most significant stat. I know in our clubhouse, there’s a lot of respect for what he’s doing, certainly the pitchers.”
What Dull is doing has even captured the attention of Oakland’s hitters, who for six innings Monday, had been held in check by Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco.
“He’s my favorite player on the team,” Oakland third baseman Danny Valencia said. “He just shows up every day and does his job.”
Valencia started a three-run rally against Nolasco in the seventh with a ringing double to the right-center field gap. He advanced on a grounder to shortstop Nunez, sliding in just ahead of a bad throw to third.

“Just trying to be aggressive out there,” Valencia said. “It’s one of those things that, if you’re out, it’s the wrong read, but if you’re safe, everybody is happy.”
Stephen Vogt followed with a single to left that scored Valencia and ended Nolasco’s afternoon. A pinch hit, broken-bat single by Billy Butler loaded the bases with one out before Coco Crisp delivered the deciding blow two batters later, hitting a clutch two-run single to center for a 3-1 lead.
“We still had chances to minimize there,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We didn’t make a play, and then we had the bobble on potentially what I thought might have been a double play if it’s exchanged cleanly. And then a two-strike base hit with the bases loaded, and that’s pretty much the game.”
The inning made a winner of Graveman (4-6), who allowed one run on three hits and four walks in 6 2/3 innings pitched. The right-hander has now won each of his last three decisions.
Nolasco (3-7) was charged with the loss, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks in six-plus innings of work, striking out four.
Ryan Madson worked around a triple and a walk in the ninth inning for his 16th save.
Both starters were posting zeroes through three until the Twins finally broke through in the bottom of the fourth.
Joe Mauer singled and Miguel Sano walked to put two on with nobody out. Brian Dozier grounded into a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners but stole second. Kennys Vargas walked to load the bases with one out for rookie Max Kepler, who beat out a potential 4-6-3 double play for his 17th RBI in the last 14 games.
Graveman retired nine of the next 10 men he faced until the seventh inning.
“It’s just one of those days where one little hiccup was enough to change the outcome of the game,” Molitor said.
The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for Oakland, which improved to 4-0 against Minnesota this season.
Mauer had a pair of hits for the Twins, who had won their previous two games.

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