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A’s salvage series finale in Minnesota

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Santiago Casilla, seen here April 3, earned the save on Thursday despite walking a pair. (Emma Marie Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)
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There is an old adage in baseball that says if a team is only to win one game of a series, it’s best to win the finale.

The Oakland Athletics did that on Thursday, ensuring a pleasant flight home with an 8-5 win over the Minnesota Twins.

Over nearly four hours, the A’s squandered chances to break the game open and even let the winning run come to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but a patient offense combined with a solid outing from Jharel Cotton was enough to avoid a sweep.

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Oakland’s offense drew eight walks and forced Twins starter Kyle Gibson out of the game after just four innings, but left 13 men on base and batted 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

Khris Davis had an RBI double in the first inning and the A’s stretched the lead to 4-0 in the second.

Minnesota cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second with solo homers from Eddie Rosario and Danny Santana. Santana had hit just two homers over the prior two seasons and entered Thursday’s matinee batting .143.

Aside from the two homers, Cotton was excellent, with the only other blemish being an unearned run in the fourth. He struck out nine over six innings, allowing just three hits.

Ryon Healy stretched the lead to 6-3 with a solo homer in the seventh and Vogt brought in two more runs with a double in the eighth, but the Twins wouldn’t go quietly.

Eduardo Escobar’s two-run shot in the eighth off Frankie Montas cut the lead to 8-5, and the Twins loaded the bases with one out in the ninth thanks to two Santiago Casilla walks and a hit batter. However, Casilla got Jorge Polanco to fly out and struck out Miguel Sano to end the game. Sano homered on Tuesday but struck out four times on Thursday.

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