The Oakland Athletics beat the Minnesota Twins by a score of 6-3 on Friday night, but the A's were not the real story here. Francisco Liriano, whose name keeps popping up in trade rumors, set a new career-high with 15 strikeouts. One inning and a lack of run support marred what was otherwise a solid night on the mound.
Liriano was cruising, striking out nine of the first 10 batters he faced before hitting a rough patch in the fourth inning. With the Twins leading 1-0, the left-handed pitcher gave up a grand slam to Jonny Gomes. One bad inning, one iffy pitch really, will be easily overlooked by teams hunting for pitching help.
Josh Willingham lent his starting pitcher a hand in the bottom of the fourth. The Twins outfielder hit his second home run of the game, sending Joe Mauer home to put the Twins within one. Willingham now has 21 homers for the season.
Still trailing by one in the top of the ninth, Alex Burnett gave up two more runs to buy Oakland some insurance.
The Twins, now 11.5 games out of first place in the AL Central, try again on Saturday at 7:10 p.m.