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McCarthy strikes out five in scoreless start

Making a charge in the postseason hunt with quite a bit of momentum, the Athletics will look to extend their four-game winning streak as they open a three-game series against the Twins on Monday night in Oakland.

Within grasp of one of the two American League Wild Card spots, the Athletics are coming off a three-game sweep of the Indians, while the Twins enter the series with just one win in their past 10 games, falling to last place in the AL.

Brandon McCarthy takes the mound for the Athletics in his third start since returning from the disabled list, still in search of his first win.

Despite an overall effective performance in his last start, McCarthy gave up back-to-back two-out doubles in the seventh inning, and departed having given up two runs in 7 2/3 innings as the A's lost, 3-2, to the Royals.

"These are the games that I think we've expected to win all year and been winning, and to give that up late like that is -- we need to do better than this," McCarthy said. "I'm not happy with myself, and there's a lot of things we could've done today to be better."

McCarthy's counterpart, Twins left-hander Brian Duensing, will also be overcoming a tough outing that resulted in a loss, an 8-4 setback against the Tigers in which he gave up five runs in six innings on eight hits.

Owner of a 2-8 record and a 4.69 ERA between the rotation and the bullpen, Duensing has especially struggled in the opening innings. In the first two innings of games, Duensing has a 9.56 ERA, which dwarfs his 3.47 ERA in all others.

"I don't know what the deal is with the first two innings," Duensing said. "It's kinda been like that for a little bit. That's been one of the frustrating parts. I feel like I'm really close to figuring it out, but I don't know if I'm too amped up coming out. The ball seems to be up in the zone."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after his last start that Duensing struggles with overthrowing, and that he needs to focus on his pitches' movement and not their speed -- an assessment that Duensing agreed with.

"When I'm throwing 91, 92, 93 mph, things probably aren't going to go very well for me," Duensing said. "When I'm 88-90, the ball is sinking and the ball is down. The changeup is usually coming out of the hand pretty good, also. So it might be an indication that I'm amped up or rushing to the plate and trying to do too much. Once I can kind of control that, my outings seem to be pretty decent."

Athletics: Griffin, Anderson near returns
A.J. Griffin threw his second bullpen session on Sunday and could be headed towards a rehab assignment, A's manager Bob Melvin said before Sunday's game.

Griffin has been out since Aug. 4 with right shoulder tightness, and his progress coincides with that of Brett Anderson, whose rehab assignment ends on Monday and will be ready to return from Tommy John surgery.

"We haven't completely figured out that situation," Melvin said on Sunday. "We'll have to make a decision today."

Twins: Revere back in lineup
After being sidelined for two games with a sore right ankle, Ben Revere was back in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Mariners.

Revere went 0-for-4 with a walk in Sunday's 5-1 loss to the Mariners.

"We're in a little bit better situation now with Revere healthy," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "We've got him, we've got [Josh] Willingham, we've got [Darin] Mastroianni, we've got Carson, we've got guys."

Worth noting
• The A's are a season-high 10 games over .500, and their four-game winning streak comes after dropping three in a row. The Twins are now a seasons-worst 20 games below .500.

• The Twins haven't scored more than four runs in the past five games.

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