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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) For the first time in nearly three years, the Minnesota Twins are playing better-than-.500 ball.

"That's two good series in a row," reliever Mike Trombley said after Wednesday's 5-3 win over the Oakland Athletics. "We need to get to the point where we expect to do this and not be surprised when it happens."

Corey Koskie hit a go-ahead single in the fifth inning and Trombley worked out of a jam in the ninth.

After an 18-36 start, the Twins are 24-22 since June 5, including 13-11 this month. They haven't finished with a winning record in a month since going 16-14 in August 1996.

"We've been a lot more consistent," Ron Coomer said. "Our starting pitching has definitely been better."

Twins starter LaTroy Hawkins (7-8) allowed three runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings, but just one run was earned. Hawkins is 4-0 with a 4.18 ERA in his last six starts after going 3-8 with a 9.95 ERA in his first 15 starts.

Trombley, the Twins' fourth pitcher, relieved to start the ninth with a two-run lead. Mike Macfarlane and Eric Chavez singled, but pinch-hitter Tony Phillips flied out and Miguel Tejada grounded into a double play. Trombley got his 16th save in 23 chances.

"It wasn't very pretty, but we'll take it," Twins manager Tom Kelly said. "We need to keep improving."

Oakland starter Jimmy Haynes (7-9) allowed four earned runs and nine hits in five-plus innings. The A's have lost five of seven, dropping to 51-50 heading into a 13-game homestand. Oakland is 31-16 at home.

"We're better than what our record shows," Athletics manager Art Howe said. "But we got what we deserved today. We have to get the big hit when we need it. Thursday's off day and the trip home is what we need. We're playing pretty solid baseball at home."

Minnesota scored two in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. Todd Walker doubled and scored on a single by Brent Gates, who came around on singles by Matt Lawton and Koskie.

Javier Valentin added a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

Valentine's RBI double put Minnesota ahead in the second, and Ron Coomer made it 2-0 with a run-scoring groundout in the third.

Oakland went ahead 3-2 in the fourth, helped by two earned runs caused by shortstop Cristian Guzman's error. Jason Giambi, Matt Stairs and Eric Chavez hit RBI singles.

Notes:

  • Walker was 2-for-4 with two doubles and is batting .408 (20-of-49) in his last 14 games with nine doubles, two triples and seven RBIs.
  • It was the 100th game of the season for the Twins (42-58).
  • Oakland's streak of 18 consecutive games with home runs ended.
  • The Twins begin a nine-game road trip Friday at Anaheim. They are idle Thursday and have three days off in the next 12 before entering a stretch of 36 games in 37 days.
  • Oakland has held a lead in all 14 games it has played since the All-Star break, going 8-6.
  • The Twins have the third-fewest errors in the majors (60) but committed four in the three-game series.
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