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Associated Press, Published May 29 2012

Willingham hits three-run, walk-off homer as Twins sink Athletics

MINNEAPOLIS – Two on, two-out, down by two in the bottom of the ninth.

The Minnesota Twins signed Josh Willingham to be their hammer in situations just like this, and the struggling slugger delivered in a big way against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.

Willingham hit a three-run homer to lift the Twins to a 3-2 victory, their second come-from-behind win in as many days.

“You want to be in that situation whether you get a hit or not,” said Willingham, who hit his fifth career walk-off homer. “Fortunately I was able to get a hit tonight. I’ve been on the other end several times as well.”

Justin Morneau added two doubles for the Twins, who trailed 2-0 heading into the ninth thanks to a strong start from A’s right-hander Jarrod Parker.

But Jamey Carroll led off the ninth with a single against Brian Fuentes (2-1), who then walked Denard Span. With two out, Willingham hit a 1-0 pitch into the bullpen and was mobbed by teammates at home plate.

The Athletics squandered another late-inning lead to lose for the seventh time in a row. The Twins ended Ryan Cook’s 23-inning scoreless streak in the eighth inning Monday en route to a 5-4 victory.

“Don’t ask me how,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I really can’t tell you. That’s why you play nine innings.”

Parker allowed four hits, walked four and struck out four in six shutout innings for the A’s.

Glen Perkins (1-1) pitched the ninth for the Twins and Fuentes, the former Twins reliever, blew his second save in six chances this season.

Signed to replace the departed Michael Cuddyer, Willingham got off to a fantastic start, hitting .313 with seven homers in his first 31 games. But he was hitting just .203 with one homer and 11 RBIs in his last 17 games before stepping to the plate in the ninth against his former team.

“We weren’t able to do a whole lot tonight offensively,” said Willingham, whose Twins left 11 men on in the first eight innings. “We had some chances with some guys on and weren’t able to get the big hit. Anytime you can come from behind and win a game like that, it’s great. They’re the wins that can kind of springboard you a little bit.”

The A’s left 12 runners on base and couldn’t take advantage of control problems by jittery Twins starter Cole De Vries, who was able to pitch five shutout innings while walking five and hitting another batter.

Oakland Minnesota

ab r h bi ab r h bi

JWeeks 2b 4 0 1 0 Span cf 2 0 0 0

Cowgill lf 3 0 1 1 Revere rf 5 0 2 0

Reddck rf 3 0 0 0 Mauer dh 5 1 0 0

S.Smith dh 3 1 1 0 Wlngh lf 4 1 1 3

Goms ph-dh 0 0 0 0 Mornea 1b 3 0 2 0

Inge 3b 5 0 1 0 Doumit c 2 0 0 0

Kaaihu 1b 2 0 0 0 Dozier ss 4 0 0 0

KSuzuk c 4 1 1 0 Plouffe 3b 4 0 1 0

Crisp cf 2 0 2 1 JCarrll 2b 3 1 1 0

Pnngtn ss 3 0 0 0

Totals 29 2 7 2 Totals 32 3 7 3

Oakland 000 000 110— 2

Minnesota 000 000 003— 3

Two outs when winning run scored.

E—J.Parker (1), J.Weeks (5). DP—Oakland 1, Minnesota 2. LOB—Oakland 12, Minnesota 11. 2B—Crisp (2), Revere (5), Morneau 2 (10). HR—Willingham (9). SB—Crisp (7). CS—Cowgill (3). S—Crisp, Pennington, J.Carroll.

IP H R ER BB SO

Oakland

J.Parker 6 4 0 0 4 4

Blevins H,2 1 1 0 0 0 2

Balfour H,1 1 0 0 0 2 1

Fnts L,2-1 BS,2-6 Xc 2 3 3 1 0

Minnesota

De Vries 5 2 0 0 5 1

Manship 1Zc 1 1 1 0 0

Duensing Xc 3 1 1 0 0

Burton 1 1 0 0 1 1

Perkins W,1-1 1 0 0 0 3 2

Duensing pitched to 1 batter in the 8th.

HBP—by De Vries (S.Smith). WP—Perkins.

T—3:25. A—31,781 (39,500).