=== AL West-leading A's close series against Twins ===
 (Sports  Network)  - The  Oakland Athletics  are starting to  pull away in the
 American  League  West. They  will try  to stretch their  lead even further on
 Thursday  when  they play  the  rubber  match of  a  three-game  set with  the
 Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
 After losing Tuesday's opener, Oakland bounced back in a big way on Wednesday,
 as  Stephen Vogt  singled and homered as  part of a 10-run fourth inning which
 propelled the Athletics to an 18-3 rout.
 Jed  Lowrie  finished with  four RBI,  Vogt and Yoenis  Cespedes each drove in
 three  runs, while  Daric Barton  had three  hits  and a  pair of  RBI in  the
 lopsided victory, the A's fourth in their last five games.
 Josh Reddick also doubled in the fifth inning in his first at-bat since coming
 off  the disabled list  to help the A's move three games in front of the Texas
 Rangers in the division.
 "I  threw balls over  the middle of the plate and they hit it," said Minnesota
 loser Mike Pelfrey. "It was an awful night."
 Sonny  Gray  (3-3) pitched well with  the lead, striking out seven batters for
 his third straight outing. Gray yielded two runs on four hits.
 "All  the way  around, we  didn't  pitch very  well," said  Twins manager  Ron
 Gardenhire. "Pitching, just the whole package, they dominated us."
 Hoping  to  deliver the  same type of  support this afternoon  the A's turn to
 righty  A.J. Griffin,  who has  won his  last three  starts. Griffin  beat the
 Houston  Astros on  Friday, as  he allowed  four runs  and seven  hits in  six
 innings.  He  also matched a career-high  with nine strikeouts and improved to
 13-9 to go along with a 3.91 ERA.
 Griffin beat the Twins the only other time he faced them.
 Minnesota,  meanwhile, will  hand the ball to lefty Scott Diamond, who is back
 with  the team after  being sent to Triple-A Rochester in early August. In six
 starts at that level Diamond pitched to a 2.02 ERA.
 With the Twins this season he was 5-10 with a 5.52 ERA.
 "Confidence  was the  big thing  when we  sent him  down, and  he's definitely
 confident right now," Gardenhire said. "He knew his pitches weren't finishing.
 He  had  some success, and kind  of took off  from there. He pitched very well
 down  the stretch.  At least we know  he's got his confidence back, and that's
 Oakland was 5-4 last season against the Twins.
 09/12 10:30:19 ET