OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland left-hander Brett Anderson pitched seven innings in his first start since undergoing elbow surgery nearly 15 months ago, and the Athletics turned a triple play behind him in a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.
Newly acquired shortstop Stephen Drew went hitless in his Oakland debut but it hardly mattered. Coco Crisp, Seth Smith and Josh Donaldson had two hits apiece for the A's, who remain one-half game behind Baltimore in the race for the second wild-card spot in the American League.
Anderson struck out seven and faced one batter over the minimum in his return after being sidelined since June 5, 2011. He was activated off the disabled list Monday following a six-start rehab stint in the minors.
Ben Revere singled and scored the lone run for Minnesota.
Anderson's outing capped a busy day for the A's.
One day after getting Drew from Arizona for a minor leaguer, Oakland optioned slumping second baseman Jemile Weeks to the minors, activated designated hitter Seth Smith off the disabled list and put reliever Jordan Norberto on the DL.
Drew didn't get a hit in four at-bats, extending his slump to 0 for 19. It's the second-longest drought of the veteran infielder's career.
That didn't slow down the A's, who won for the fifth time in six games to even their season series with the Twins.
Minnesota scored a run in the first on former Athletic Josh Willingham's RBI single Revere reached on an infield single, stole second and took third on a wild pitch.
Anderson picked off Willingham straying off first base to get out of the inning then retired nine straight before Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit opened the fifth with consecutive hits, setting the stage for the third triple play in the majors this season.
Trevor Plouffe hit a sharp grounder to Oakland third baseman Donaldson, who stepped on the bag and made a quick relay to second baseman Adam Rosales. Rosales, making just his fifth start of the season after Weeks was sent to the minors, threw to first baseman Chris Carter to complete the 5-4-3 triple play.
It was the 21st triple play in franchise history and the first by the A's since Randy Velarde's unassisted triple play against the New York Yankees on May 29, 2000.
Donaldson continued his hot streak since being called up from the minors last week. He had an RBI double in the second to drive in Smith, then singled in the sixth when Oakland knocked Minnesota starter Cole De Vries (2-5) out of the game.
De Vries retired the first two batters in the inning before Smith, Donaldson and Derek Norris followed with consecutive hits. Norris' single to the gap in left-center drove in Smith to give the A's a 2-1 lead.
Anderson did the rest to win for the first time since May 26, 2011.
He didn't walk a batter and retired his final seven hitters before departing after the seventh.
Sean Doolittle pitched the eighth and Grant Balfour worked the ninth for his 12th save.
De Vries struck out three in 5 2-3 innings but lost to the A's for the second time this season and remained winless since June 30.
NOTES: Injured Twins OF Denard Span was scheduled to have an MRI on his right clavicle but was unable to go through with the test because he felt claustrophobic. Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire is hoping to avoid putting Span on the DL. ... The Twins announced RHP Carl Pavano will miss the remainder of the season after being diagnosed with a bruise on his right humerus bone. ... Oakland left-handed reliever Jordan Norberto (shoulder) was placed on the 15-day DL before the game while RHP Graham Godfrey was designated for assignment. ... A's LHP Tommy Milone (9-9) opposes Twins RHP Liam Hendriks (0-5) Wednesday in a matchup of slumping pitchers. Milone is winless over his previous four starts while Hendriks has yet to win in the big leagues. Henriks was called up from Triple-A Rochester before Tuesday's game.