OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Nick Blackburn is pitching the same way he did earlier in the season - and that's not good news for the Minnesota Twins.
Blackburn was roughed up again Saturday night and failed to make it out of the fifth inning in the Twins' 8-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics.
``Blackie really labored as you saw,' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``Too many talks at the mound, the whole package. A lot of not connecting out there. He is going through a little bit of a scuffle period.'
Blackburn (7-8) was charged with seven runs, six earned, and 10 hits in 4 1-3 innings. The right-hander walked five and struck out two while falling to 1-4 with a 7.55 ERA in his last eight games.
He also started the Twins' 20-6 loss to Texas last Monday and was tagged for nine runs in 2 2-3 innings.
Against the A's, Blackburn pitched with runners on base every inning and was knocked out of the game by Scott Sizemore's three-run double.
``Everything is going good in between starts and the game comes along and I can't throw anything down at the knees,' said Blackburn, who went 1-4 with a 5.14 ERA in five April starts. ``All I can do right now is just to wait for something to happen. Anything that was down they just spit on and waited for something to be up.'
Jim Thome had two hits and an RBI for Minnesota, which missed an opportunity to gain ground on AL Central-leading Detroit. The Tigers lost 5-1 to the Los Angeles Angels.
Hideki Matsui singled twice and reached five times for the A's, who snapped a three-game losing streak to the Twins. Matsui is batting a major league-best .473 since the All-Star break.
Oakland also got three hits from Conor Jackson and two from Coco Crisp, who is being mentioned in trade rumors as Sunday's non-waiver deadline approaches. Cliff Pennington extended his career-high hitting streak to 14 games and scored the go-ahead run in the second.
``It gets contagious,' A's manager Bob Melvin said of his team's hitting. ``The longer this goes on the more confidence guys will have.'
Guillermo Moscoso (4-5) allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings for Oakland. The rookie right-hander retired 14 of 16 during one stretch and left with a 7-2 lead.
Brad Ziegler, Grant Balfour and Andrew Bailey completed the eight-hitter for the A's.
Crisp, who singled and scored in the first, made it 8-2 when he scored on a passed ball in the sixth.
Matsui, Oakland's biggest offseason acquisition, hit .209 in the first half but has been on a tear since the break. He walked in his first two plate appearances, singled and scored in the fifth and reached on a fielder's choice in the sixth.
Michael Cuddyer hit an RBI single in the first for Minnesota, winning a nine-pitch battle with Moscoso. Thome doubled and scored on Delmon Young's single to make it 2-1 in the second.
Oakland pushed across two runs in the bottom half to take the lead for good. Jemile Weeks drove in Pennington with a triple, making it 3-2.
NOTES: Twins star Joe Mauer went into the game with a career .324 average at the Coliseum but went 0 for 4. ... Cuddyer has hit safely in 23 of his last 28 games and is batting .343 over that stretch.
The Associated Press News Service
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