OAKLAND — Nick Swisher hit a three-run homer, Mark Ellis followed with a solo shot, and the Oakland Athletics staked Barry Zito to a quick lead in a 7-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.
Zito (14-12) pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings and the A's pulled within 1 1/2 games of the AL West-leading Angels.
The Twins tried to rally, scoring five runs in the ninth inning, but came up short.
Swisher connected for his 19th home run with a shot to right-center off Brad Radke with two out in the second, then Ellis hit his career-high 10th homer to left moments later.
Ellis tripled to lead off the first, then scored on Jason Kendall's groundout. Ellis fell a double short of the cycle and is batting .473 in 17 games as a leadoff hitter this year.
The A's also welcomed back shortstop Bobby Crosby, who came off the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season -- this time after recovering from a broken left ankle. He also missed April 5 to May 29 because of two broken ribs.