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KC@OAK: Lester strong in his A's debut

Jon Lester's first start with the A's was a success, and the left-hander is looking to build on it in his second outing with his new club on Thursday in the opener of a four-game set against the Twins at the Coliseum.

After spending nine seasons with the Red Sox, Lester was acquired by Oakland along with outfielder Jonny Gomes on July 31 in a blockbuster trade that sent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to Boston. Lester, who is 11-7 with a 2.59 ERA in 22 starts this season, gave up three runs on nine hits over 6 2/3 innings on Saturday as Oakland cruised to an 8-3 win over the Royals.

"We get so amped up for our first of everything, whether it's your first start, first postseason start, whatever it is," Lester said after the game against Kansas City. "Now it's just getting back to work and the job at hand and getting used to my surroundings. You want to put a good foot forward, so I'm glad today went the way it did, and I'll go back out there in five days and do it again."

He'll "do it again" Thursday against Twins rookie right-hander Yohan Pino, who will be making his ninth career start.

Pino, who is 1-3 with a 4.57 ERA this season, is coming off a no-decision against the White Sox on Saturday. The right-hander gave up four runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings in an 8-6 win for the Twins.

Pino will face the A's for the first time on Thursday.

"I don't change anything," Pino said. "Just what I've been doing. Just the same plan. Throw strikes, work the counts."

Twins: Mauer, Nolasco begin rehab assignments 
The Twins received positive reports on Joe Mauer and Ricky Nolasco, who both started their rehab assignments with Class A Cedar Rapids on Tuesday night.

Mauer, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique since July 3, is tentatively scheduled to rejoin the Twins on Monday. And Nolasco, on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 7 with a right elbow strain, is scheduled to make one more rehab start on Sunday before rejoining Minnesota's rotation.

"Everything went well," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Mauer is healthy and got through his at-bats. I guess it was pretty wild down there -- a mania going on. And Nolasco did his thing. He felt great, and the velocity was good. So it was a good start for him."

A's: Lowrie expected to be back Thursday
The A's concluded their three-game set against the Rays on Wednesday without Jed Lowrie, but they're expected to have their infielder back in the lineup on Thursday.

Lowrie was prepped for a lengthy run of starts with backup Nick Punto (right hamstring strain) resigned to the disabled list, but instead was forced to miss two consecutive games because of a bruised right index finger.

Manager Bob Melvin said Lowrie was "better" Wednesday morning.

"He felt much better swinging the bat today," said Melvin. "He still felt it a little throwing, but he'll be in here early tomorrow, and we'll get a read on that. Much better chance than we had today."

Eric Sogard has been manning shortstop in place of Lowrie, who is batting .337 with 10 multi-hit games over his last 24 contests.

Worth noting
• The Twins and A's played earlier this season, with Oakland sweeping a three-game series at Target Field on April 7-10. The A's won six of seven against Minnesota in 2013.

• Minnesota hasn't announced a starter for Saturday's game against the A's, a vacancy created after left-hander Logan Darnell was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on Sunday to make room for outfielder Jordan Schafer. The Twins could stay in-house and start long reliever Anthony Swarzak, or they may decide to bring up top prospect Trevor May from Triple-A. May, who has a 2.93 ERA in 17 outings with Rochester, last started on Monday and would be on regular rest.

• The Twins will see a familiar face in outfielder Sam Fuld, who they traded to the A's before the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31. Minnesota received left-hander Tommy Milone in return, but Milone is at Triple-A Rochester. Milone made his first start with Rochester on Tuesday, giving up just one run over seven innings while taking a hard-luck loss.

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