OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Minnesota Twins left-hander Andrew Albers left too many critical pitches over the plate on a night when his fastball was only marginally effective.
Two costly errors behind him didn't help, either.
Albers was hit hard for the third time in his last four starts but was hurt more by the Twins' defense in an 11-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.
``Really an ugly night there,' Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said after his team committed a season-high four errors. ``We threw the ball around, missed the ball and had some trouble in the outfield early. Every time we missed a play they took full advantage of it. (Albers) didn't get much help at all.'
Albers (2-4) lost his fourth straight decision after giving up eight runs, only three of which were earned. He allowed eight hits over 4 2-3 innings, walked one and struck out two.
It was just the latest bump in the road for Albers, who has struggled since opening the year with 17 1-3 scoreless innings.
``You just keep battling, keep trying to make pitches and just keep working at it,' Albers said. ``Unfortunately tonight I just wasn't able to battle through it often enough. It's one of those things where you try to pick guys up and I just wasn't able to do it well enough tonight.'
Josh Willingham and Eduardo Escobar each had two hits for the Twins, who have lost four of five and 12 of 16.
Oakland held a 4-0 lead when Minnesota's defense broke down, leading to five unearned runs in the fifth inning. Escobar was charged with two errors at third base.
The A's loaded the bases with two outs against Albers. Escobar dived to nab Chris Young's sharp grounder down the third base line and then rushed his throw, which skipped past Chris Parmelee and into the Twins bullpen, allowing all three runners to score.
Ryan Pressly took over for Albers and gave up an RBI single to Alberto Callaspo, who later scored on a wild pitch.
Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson homered, Callaspo had two hits and drove in two runs, and Bartolo Colon pitched six shutout innings as the A's trimmed their magic number for winning the AL West to two.
``Not a good night for our baseball team and not a lot of fun,' Gardenhire said. ``We just make a couple plays behind (Albers), different story and we're still in the ballgame. But you got to make plays and we didn't make plays.'
Josh Reddick had two hits and drove in a run for the A's, who won for the eighth time in 10 games. The A's can clinch their second consecutive AL West title with a win Saturday combined with a Texas Rangers loss.
Colon (17-6) won his third straight start, giving up five hits, walking one and striking out eight, one off his season high.
Colon extended his scoreless streak to 19 innings, dating to the first inning of the A's 7-2 win over the Houston Astros on Sept. 8.
Tommy Milone threw two scoreless innings and Evan Scribner finished the game.
Cespedes homered leading off the second and Donaldson hit his home run, a two-run shot, in the sixth.
NOTES: Twins IF Trevor Plouffe was not in the starting lineup because of a left wrist problem. ... The Twins have winning records against every team in the AL West except the A's. ... Willingham is hitting .396 (19 for 48) against his former team since 2012. ... LHP Pedro Hernandez (3-1, 5.26) is slated to make the start for the Twins on Saturday. He has three successive no decisions, though the Twins won all three games. ... RHP Jarrod Parker (11-7, 3.81) gets the start for the A's. Parker had his 19-game unbeaten streak end in his last start.
The Associated Press News Service
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