Twins' magic number down to 5
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Danny Valencia is hardly looking like a rookie for the Minnesota Twins.
Valencia delivered another key hit, launching a tiebreaking three-run homer in the sixth inning that sent Kevin Slowey and the AL Central-leading Twins over the Oakland Athletics 4-2 Saturday.
The Twins' magic number for clinching the division dropped to five after the Detroit Tigers defeated Chicago 6-3. Minnesota now owns a 10-game lead over the second-place White Sox.
"You see all these situations coming up in the minor leagues," Valencia said. "Obviously everything is magnified up here, but it's still the same game and you've just got to go with it."
Valencia, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Repko each had two hits for the Twins.
Slowey (13-6) set a career high for wins, giving up two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. Matt Capps earned his 40th save and 13th in 15 chances since coming to Minnesota.
Landon Powell homered and doubled for Oakland. Rookie Chris Carter kept struggling, going 0 for 2 with a pair of strikeouts -- he is 0 for 29 with 13 whiffs since making his major league debut this season.
Carter also came up short on a line drive hit down the left-field line which led to the Twins' first run in the fifth.
"It's a ball that I think he'd catch more often than he wouldn't," Athletics manager Bob Geren said. "If he had to do it again, I think he'd catch that eight or nine out of 10 times. He just didn't catch that one."
A stark contrast to Carter, Valencia has been right in the middle of the Twins ascension during his rookie year. Since arriving at the start of June, Valencia has hit .340 with 33 RBIs and taken control of third base, a rotating spot for Minnesota the past several seasons.
"I've been more impressed with his defense than any other part of his game because he's worked really hard at catching the ball," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "And he knows how much that means to us. I thought he had a heck of a spring for us in the short time he was there. And he's probably going above what we thought he would do his first year up here. He's really playing well."
Dallas Braden (9-13) went six innings for Oakland, allowing four runs on eight hits and four walks.
Valencia connected for the second straight game, his fourth home run this season snapping a 1-all tie in the sixth.
The Twins have seen Valencia deliver in the clutch as he's hit .431 with runners in scoring position. He's done damage at Target Field, hitting .456 for the best home batting average in the majors.