OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Coco Crisp will never call himself a home run hitter. He is just a versatile leadoff man who happens to have 21 home runs for the Oakland Athletics.
Plenty of important ones at that. His latest moved the A's one step closer to another AL West title.
Crisp connected for a go-ahead two-run drive in the eighth inning, and the Athletics lowered their magic number to clinch the division to four with a back-and-forth 8-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.
"You can't focus on one guy because everybody has that potential," Crisp said. "We definitely have a lot of threats in our lineup and it takes a lot of pressure off one guy to be a run producer."
Brian Dozier hit a tying RBI single in the top half of the eighth, then Oakland rallied once more just as this club has done so many times the past two seasons. Crisp connected for his 21st home run on a 2-1 pitch from Shairon Martis (0-1).
Jed Lowrie's three-run homer put the A's ahead 6-3 in the sixth after pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo tied it with a solo shot, but the bullpen couldn't hold the lead.
Sean Doolittle (5-5) recorded the final four outs for the victory to end the 3-hour, 41-minute game in front of just 11,461 fans.
Crisp's 21 leadoff homers are tied for most in the majors.
"That was awesome," pitcher Dan Straily said. "It was clutch. He's been doing that for us all season."
Callaspo's two-out drive was his second career pinch-hit homer, his eighth clout this season and third since joining Oakland before the trade deadline. Crisp then came through with a single to chase Brian Duensing (6-3), then Lowrie followed Josh Donaldson's single with his 13th home run.
Stephen Vogt hit a sacrifice fly and Josh Reddick had an RBI double for the A's, who remained 6 1-2 games ahead of Texas in the division race after the Rangers won 8-2 at Tampa Bay.
"I know we're close," Crisp said. "We've got to keep the same philosophy. Hopefully we can get there and win this division."
Oswaldo Arcia homered in the seventh for the Twins, who lost for the seventh time in nine games that included dropping two of three to the A's at home last week. But Minnesota is holding out hope catcher Joe Mauer will recover from his concussion in time to play again before the season ends.
"They kept coming up with the big hits and getting the lead," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We kept coming back and finally we got lead, and they jumped us again. Not only did they jump us, they hit them in the seats. If we could have kept them in the ballpark we might have had a better opportunity to win it. It seemed like everyone we brought gave up home runs tonight, and that hasn't been the norm."