OAKLAND, Calif. -- Coco Crisp hasn't just hit more home runs than ever in his career.
He's hit more home runs that meant something to the Athletics, including his two-run bomb in the eighth inning Thursday that gave them an 8-6 win over the Minnesota Twins after Oakland blew leads of 2-1 and 6-3.
It was Crisp's 21st homer, and his 11th homer in his last 27 games. Compare that to 2012, when he hit 11 homers all season.
This homer came on the night Crisp received the Catfish Hunter Award, a leadership award voted on by his teammates and the Athletics' staff.
With the win, their 90th, the Athletics trimmed their magic number for winning the American League West to four. Any combination of Athletics wins and Texas Rangers losses totaling four will give the Athletics their second consecutive title.
The Athletics have been on a home run tear for six weeks, and it hasn't been just Crisp.
Down 3-2 after Minnesota rallied to take the lead in the sixth, Oakland was quiet with two outs in the bottom of the inning when Alberto Callaspo came off the bench to deliver the second pinch-hit homer of his career.
Crisp and Josh Donaldson followed with singles, setting up Jed Lowrie. Doing battle with Minnesota right-handed reliever Anthony Swarzak, Lowrie clubbed his 13th homer, his three-run shot pushing Oakland into a 6-3 lead.
The Twins got one of those back when Oswaldo Arcia homered off Brett Anderson in the seventh, also with two out and none on. Ryan Cook was asked to hold a two-run lead in the eighth, but Cook's troubles continued and he got just one out while giving up two runs.
The Athletics' homers give them 60 in their last 40 games, the best total in the majors dating to Aug. 9. For the first three weeks of September alone, Oakland has hit 28 homers in 18 games.
The win went to left-hander Sean Doolittle, who got the final four outs after the rest of the bullpen struggled.
Athletics starter Dan Straily came into the game with a four-game winning streak, and while he pitched well right from the start, he was behind after giving up an unearned run in the third inning.
Twins' first baseman Chris Parmelee beat out a single to shortstop, and when Lowrie's throw sailed by Daric Barton at first, Parmelee took second. A grounder got him to third and on a grounder to second base, Parmelee broke for the plate.
Second baseman Eric Sogard's throw home wasn't in time to catch Parmelee, who scored the game's first run.
Straily was out of the game in the sixth as his pitch count began to build. A single by Arcia was followed by two Straily wild pitches and, eventually, a walk to Josh Willingham, at which point reliever Dan Otero took over with two out.
Otero has been a major addition to the bullpen in 2013, but on this night he struggled. A single by Yosmil Pinto brought a run home, and Otero walked Parmelee, loading the bases. Pedro Floriman's bid for a bases-clearing double was snared by third baseman Josh Donaldson, but the single was enough to give the Twins a 3-2 lead.
The Athletics say there's a chance that Yoenis Cespedes could be back in the lineup Friday as the D.H. after the left fielder had a cortisone shot in his ailing right shoulder after Wednesday's game. Before the series opener with the Twins, Cespedes told manager Bob Melvin afternoon that he was, in the manager's words, "feeling real good."
"We're hoping he can play tomorrow," Melvin said.
After essentially giving up on any chance of getting catcher John Jaso back this season after two months given away to a disabling concussion, the Athletics are now wondering if Jaso can help them after all. Jaso will take part in instructional league games starting Monday.
"I have no idea what happens after that," Jaso said. "I don't know if there's a chance to play some in the postseason, if there is a chance to possibly move me in some postseason scenario. I'm feeling much better, though."
Crisp was presented the Catfish Hunter Award before Thursday's game. The award honors an Athletics player whose playing on the field "best exemplifies the courageous, competitive and inspirational spirit" demonstrated by the late Hall of Fame pitcher. The winner is determined by a vote of players, coaches and staff. Crisp said he was "surprised and pretty amazed" to have won the award.
As for why he won, he said he tries to separate out each day. "I always go out and try to do my best. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose," he said. "Yesterday doesn't matter if you lose, or if you win. Today matters."
(c)2013 Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)
Visit the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.) at www.contracostatimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services