Twins have brooms in hand for finale with A's

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 12:01 PM ET

The Minnesota Twins will try to complete a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics when the two teams collide again this afternoon in the finale at the Coliseum.

The Twins will need Nick Blackburn to get back in the win column if they want to finish off the A's in this series. However, the last time the right-hander was on the hill, he saw his five-game winning streak come to an end with a 7-1 setback to Seattle on Tuesday.

In the loss to the Mariners, Blackburn lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on 10 hits. It was the second road loss on the year for Blackburn, who has struggled in enemy territory, posting an subpar 6.44 earned run average.

Pitching against the A's has been a problem for Blackburn in his career, as the crafty twirler is 0-2 along with a poor 6.37 ERA in five starts against Oakland.

The A's will hand the ball to Gio Gonzalez, who will be looking to snap a two- game winless streak. The last time the hard-throwing youngster was on the mound, he allowed three runs on seven hits and four walks while lasting just five innings Tuesday at Boston. He did not factor in the final decision.

Gonzalez will be making his third career start against the Twins, and his previous two outings against Minnesota were absolute nightmares. In those two starts, the southpaw lasted a combined 5 2/3 innings, surrendering 18 runs on 18 hits and six walks. Gonzalez did strike out six batters, but allowed five home runs.

In last night's second test of this set, Matt Tolbert drove in the game- winning run in the ninth inning to help the Twins take a 4-3 victory over the Athletics.

Delmon Young finished the game with three RBI while Jim Thome scored twice for the Twins, who have won the first two games of this series after losing three in a row in Seattle.

Minnesota's Francisco Liriano was solid in his start, as he was charged with just one run allowed on five hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts over seven innings. Alex Burnett (1-1) got the win for getting the final out of the eighth, while closer Jon Rauch worked around a one-out single by pinch-hitter Ryan Sweeney in the bottom of the ninth to pick up his 15th save of the season

Adam Rosales had two hits and drove in two runs while Mark Ellis went 2-for-4 with a run scored for the Athletics, who have dropped four of their last five.

Oakland starter Trevor Cahill was charged with three runs on five hits with four walks and six strikeouts over six innings, with Brad Ziegler (2-3) suffering the loss in relief.

The Twins blew a two-run lead in the eighth, but grabbed it back in the ninth. With Ziegler on the mound to start the frame, Justin Morneau was issued an intentional walk with one out and no one on base and replaced on the basepaths by J.J. Hardy. Nick Punto then worked a walk and a Denard Span fielder's choice left runners at the corners with two out. Tolbert then punched a single to center to plate Hardy for a 4-3 lead.

"The bottom line is I didn't get the guys out after that," Ziegler said of giving Morneau an intentional walk, then watching Hardy score the deciding run. "We want the close games. If we're going to be a playoff team, these are the kind of games you're going to have to win. After losing games like this, we've got to be able to go and make adjustments."

Oakland won six of 10 versus Minnesota a season ago, including three of the final four matchups.


Videos

Photos