MINNEAPOLIS - Oakland Athletics rookie starter Jharel Cotton displayed some maturity by overcoming early struggles on Thursday. Meanwhile, Minnesota five-year veteran Kyle Gibson was unable to turn his season around and was sent to the minors.
Cotton provided six effective innings on the mound and the Athletics' offense tied a season high with 14 hits to snap the team's skid with an 8-5 win against the Twins on Thursday.
Cotton (3-3) allowed two solo homers in the second inning but otherwise stayed out of trouble as Oakland snapped a three-game losing streak. Oakland had lost eight of its previous nine games.
"I think he just got a little upset and just got after them a little bit," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Cotton, regarding his recovery after giving up the two home runs. "That's what you look for. That's called maturity when you had a rough start or two and now all of a sudden you get a four-run lead and they come back, and after two home runs, you go back out there and pitch as well as you have all year."
The rookie right-hander gave up just three hits and three walks. Two of the three runs Cotton allowed were earned, and he struck out a career-high nine batters. He set down the final eight batters he faced.
"I just wanted to keep the team in the game," Cotton said. "Of course, I have to get a little angry and just compete, compete for my team. Going out there and giving them six today was my goal and I did that. I'm thankful for them putting up runs, making some plays for me. It was just a good game overall."
Santiago Castilla loaded the bases in the ninth but converted his fifth save in six chances by striking out Miguel Sano looking.
"I was looking for a fastball in the middle," Sano said. "He threw me cutters inside. They never make a mistake over the middle."
Gibson (0-4) surrendered four runs in four innings and saw his ERA balloon to 8.20 after six starts. He gave up eight hits and walked three on Thursday and has now walked 13 batters in 26 1/3 innings.
Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said before the game that Gibson has to perform to stay in the rotation, and the right-hander was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after the game.
"It's not working," Molitor said. "It's putting us in a bad spot more times than not here early in the season. To be honest with you, I still have faith in him. But we need to give him an opportunity to go work things out."
Gibson added: "I don't know that I've had a more frustrating stretch that I can even remember. I completely understand where they're coming from and I've got things that I need to work on. It's a whole lot easier to work on things in Triple-A than when you're trying to win games in the big leagues."
Ryon Healy had a bunt single, and his fourth homer of the season extended the A's lead in the seventh inning before being ejected later for arguing balls and strikes. Stephen Vogt had two hits and two RBIs.
The bottom five hitters in the Oakland order went 9-for-21 with five runs scored and five RBIs.
"This was a tough road trip up and down the lineup, the pitching staff, you name it," Vogt said. "Today, to have a day like that where we get a great start, our bullpen did a great job as well, and the lineup, everybody contributed today. So, I think this was a very big game for us to have a happy flight home and be ready for a good homestand."
Eddie Rosario and Danny Santana hit solo home runs for the Twins, who had won six of their previous seven games. Eduardo Escobar added a two-run shot in the eighth.
Chad Pinder had two hits, including an RBI single in the second, for Oakland. Matt Joyce had two hits and two walks, including a bases-loaded walk in the second inning, when the A's scored three runs.
Oakland walked a season-high eight times but left 13 runners on base and was 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
NOTES: Minnesota CF Byron Buxton left the game in the sixth inning after hitting the wall hard while securing the final out of the top of the fifth. The team said he was pulled for precautionary reasons and he passed a concussion test. He will be re-evaluated on Friday. ... Oakland placed C Josh Phegley on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Phegley took a ball off his mask and left Wednesday's game. Manager Bob Melvin said Phegley reported feeling better on Thursday than he did a day after his last concussion. C Bruce Maxwell was recalled from Triple-A. ... RHP Nick Tepesch will start Sunday's game for the Twins, taking the team's open fifth starter spot in the rotation. ... Melvin told reporters that LHP Sean Manaea (left shoulder strain) wouldn't throw a bullpen session as expected on Thursday. Manaea was sore after throwing Wednesday and Melvin said he would do some long toss. Manaea's stay on the disabled list could be longer than expected, and RHP Sonny Gray will start Sunday's game against Detroit.