MINNEAPOLIS -- It was only the first series of the season at Target Field, but the Twins didn't do much to prove they'll use their home park to their advantage, which is something that has plagued them over the last three years.
The Twins went a combined 96-147 at home from 2011-2013, and started their first homestand of '14 on the wrong note with a three-game sweep at the hands of the A's.
Oakland continued its recent dominance over Minnesota, as Mike Pelfrey turned in another ugly outing in a 6-1 loss on Thursday afternoon in front of 20,060 fans, the smallest crowd in Target Field's history.
The A's have now won nine straight against the Twins, outscoring them, 86-27, in the process, including, 21-9, in the three-game sweep. The Twins were never really in Thursday's game, as they didn't get a hit after the third inning with right-hander Dan Straily tossing seven strong innings.
"It was not a very fun game out there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It was slow-paced and we didn't get many hits. We didn't get any after the third inning. Straily changed speeds with his breaking ball and his fastball and kept us off-balance. Pelf was just picking a little bit too much. Long counts, and then getting behind hitters and they whack it pretty good."
Pelfrey, making his second start of the year, lasted five-plus innings and was hurt by a pair of two-run homers. The right-hander gave up six runs on nine hits and four walks with three strikeouts, and now has a 7.84 ERA in the early going the season.
"It was tough," Pelfrey said. "My fastball command wasn't very good. I threw a lot of balls. I walked too many guys. I left balls up and over the plate. If you do that, you're going to hit. It was just a bad day of executing pitches."
The A's scored their first run against Pelfrey in the second on a two-out RBI single from Daric Barton after Yoenis Cespedes and Alberto Callaspo both singled earlier in the inning.
Oakland added two more in the third on a two-run blast from Josh Donaldson. It was Donaldson's first homer of the year, and it came on a 2-1 fastball.
The A's used another homer to their advantage in the fourth, when Sam Fuld connected on a two-run shot with one out. The homer came on a 3-1 fastball, and marked Fuld's first of the season.
"We come out here, and Minnesota's not known for being a great hitters' park, but we feel pretty good here," Donaldson said. "We have some guys that have some thump, and we just did a great job all series of getting guys on base."
Gardenhire said he wasn't pleased with Pelfrey's pace; something he believed hurt him last season when the righty had a 5.19 ERA in 29 starts. Pelfrey said he's still working to correct the issue but he struggled with it again on Thursday.
"It's something I always have in my head -- I try to work fast," Pelfrey said. "But if you're walking guys and you have a lot of guys on base, it's tough. But it's something I'll continue to try to get better at. But I think all the way around, I was terrible today."
Pelfrey pitched into the sixth inning but gave up back-to-back singles to Nick Punto and Fuld before being removed from the game for right-hander Samuel Deduno. Deduno gave up a run on an RBI single from Donaldson but Jed Lowrie was thrown out at home by center fielder Aaron Hicks on the play. Umpires initiated a review to see if catcher Josmil Pinto blocked the plate but the play was confirmed.
The Twins were held in check offensively by Straily, who gave up just one run on three hits and a walk in his seven innings of work. Minnesota's only run against the righty came in the first on a solo homer from Brian Dozier. It was Dozier's third of the year, and his second in as many days.
"He kept his pitches down and really only made that one mistake to Dozier," said Jason Kubel, who went 1-for-3 with a walk. "He mixed up his pitches and kept the ball down and didn't give us much to hit."
With Straily on top of his game, the Twins failed to threaten while Pelfrey's struggles continued, handing Minnesota its ninth straight loss at home dating back to last season.
"It's not fun," Gardenhire said. "It's not the way it's supposed to be. It's not like the guys aren't trying. It's just not working right now. We have to figure out a way to score runs and do our thing here."