MINNEAPOLIS -- By the time Dan Straily took the mound for the second inning, he knew he just didn't have it.

His velocity nowhere to be found, the 25-year-old right-hander took the next step in his maturation process by gritting his teeth, focusing on location and changing speeds over anything flashy and shutting down the Minnesota Twins.

Straily pitched three-hit ball for seven innings and Sam Fuld hit a rare home run to help the Oakland Athletics complete a three-game sweep with a 6-1 victory Thursday.

The Athletics' rotation has opened the season with nine straight starts allowing three runs or less and has compiled a 1.93 ERA in 56 innings.

Fuld hit just his sixth homer in 738 career plate appearances and singled. Josh Donaldson had a two-run homer and an RBI single for the Athletics (6-3).

Mike Pelfrey (0-2) gave up six runs on nine hits and four walks in five innings. The Twins have had only one quality start in their first nine games.

Brian Dozier hit his third home run of the season for Minnesota.

Straily was selected in the 24th round of the 2009 draft, just another in the seemingly endless line of young, strong starting pitchers churned out by Billy Beane's Moneyball machine.

Last year he led all AL rookies in starts, innings and strikeouts, and he brushed off the early homer to Dozier to slow down the Twins for the rest of the game. He allowed two baserunners -- both on walks -- over his final five innings

Pelfrey had no such luck, laboring through another poor outing for Minnesota's starting rotation. Donaldson's homer in the third inning put him behind 3-1 and he walked No. 9 hitter Nick Punto in the fourth before Fuld yanked a pitch just over the wall in right field for a 5-1 lead.

The cushion allowed the A's to avoid a save situation on the same day Melvin demoted struggling closer Jim Johnson, who is 0-2 with an 18.90 ERA in five appearances this season. The A's will go with a closer-by-committee approach while they try to get Johnson straightened out, Melvin said.

The announced attendance of 20,650 was the smallest in Target Field history.

 

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