MINNEAPOLIS -- Catcher Derek Norris took Jim Johnson off the hook Wednesday afternoon, hammering a three-run home run in the 11th inning to enable the A's to pull out a 7-4 win over Minnesota after the Twins knocked around the A's closer when he tried to end the game in regulation.

It was the second homer in two games for Norris. It was the third rough appearance in five games for Johnson, who retired only one of the five batters he faced and needed Dan Otero to get the last two outs in the ninth.

"Jim's just not getting ahead of the hitters right now," Norris said. "He's falling behind, missing down and up, and then the pitch winds up being over the plate and it gets hit. He'll figure it out. Maybe he just needs to do something unorthodox when he throws his curve or changeup."

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 9: Alberto Callaspo #18 of the Oakland Athletics congratulates teammate Josh Donaldson #20 on scoring a run against the Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 9: Alberto Callaspo #18 of the Oakland Athletics congratulates teammate Josh Donaldson #20 on scoring a run against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on April 9, 2014 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) ( Hannah Foslien )

Johnson's previous two appearances had been scoreless, if not exactly clean. This time, though, he went to 3-2 on three of the first four hitters, giving up a hit and two walks. Eduardo Escobar's pop fly single brought a run in and sent Johnson out.

"I'm frustrated," said Johnson, who saved a combined 101 games the past two seasons with Baltimore but now has an 18.90 ERA with two losses and a blown save.

"The only thing I know to do is to fight like hell," he said. "It doesn't matter if you've saved 50 or you've saved zero. You've still got to be the same guy."

Johnson hasn't been the same guy the A's thought they were getting when they traded with the Orioles to get him this winter. Not even close. But Otero said he will be the same guy, and soon.

"It's a matter of some minor adjustments for him," Otero said. "I can tell you that we've still got confidence in him. He's still the same guy."

Johnson's troubles have been lessened by the fact that the A's have won three in a row for the first time this season and can complete a series sweep Thursday when Dan Straily pitches against the Twins' Mike Pelfrey.

And Bob Melvin isn't ready to say he's mulling changes in the bullpen.

"Potential options? I really don't know yet," the A's manager said. "I don't know that there are potential options."

Even after two walks and a single loaded the bases, Johnson was given a chance to pitch out of the jam. But that bloop single fell, and Melvin felt he needed to go in a new direction.

"The last thing he wants to do is to walk a couple of guys," Melvin said. "Then you are at the mercy of a bloop hit, like it was. Then I had to go get him. I didn't feel great about it, but I had to do it. We'll keep working to get him right."

Norris has been right since the last two months of last year. He hit .356 in his last 27 games of 2013 with four homers, then led the team in batting (.378) and slugging (.689) in spring training. Now he's the first A's player with multiple homers, not to mention a .417 batting average.

He's the starting catcher against left-handed pitching, but with Wednesday's homer coming off right-hander Jared Burton, Norris is making a play for more starts against right-handers. But mostly he just wants to drive the ball when he gets the chance.

"I was just trying to see the ball over the plate and drive it," he said of his game-winner, which came after a walk to Daric Barton and a single by Alberto Callaspo. "I got under it a little."

Norris said he was just doing his part in picking up for Johnson.

"Any time when someone doesn't come through, we fill in for them," he said. "It's a nice chemistry here."

  • Coco Crisp was out of the lineup Wednesday and may need one more day before playing again after having taken a cortisone shot in his left wrist.

  • There is a possibility disabled outfielder Craig Gentry (back) will join the team Thursday, but it's more likely he'll meet the team Friday in Seattle.

  • Jesse Chavez struck out a career-best nine and allowed one run in seven innings. He said he'd like to "have the pitch back" that Jason Kubel hit for a solo homer, but otherwise was pleased.

  • Josh Reddick had a rough day. He grounded into a double play and struck out four times and is now sitting on a .103 average.

  • Josh Donaldson and Glen Perkins got into a shouting match after the Twins closer struck out Donaldson to end the 10th. Donaldson, who flipped his bat away after the strikeout, said Perkins pointed at him and started talking. "I don't feel I disrespected him," Donaldson said, who seemed surprised by the harmless clearing of the benches.

  • The A's have won eight straight games against the Twins and 13 of their past 15 meetings.

  • A's top prospect Addison Russell, a shortstop playing at Double-A Midland, will miss at least a month with a torn right hamstring.

    THURSDAY'S GAME

    A's (Dan Straily 0-1)
    at Minnesota (Mike Pelfrey 0-1), 10:10 a.m. MLB Network