Aramis Ramirez returned from the disabled list after missing 21 games with a strained left hamstring to wallop a three-run homer that tied the game at 4 in the seventh, but it wasn't quite enough for the Brewers on Wednesday.
Aramis Ramirez delivered the type of momentum-shifting blow that usually catapults a team to a victory, but such was not the case for the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night.
In his first game back from the disabled list, Ramirez blasted a three-run home run in the seventh inning to tie the game at 4, but a rare slip up from the Brewers bullpen gave two of those runs right back in a 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
"I thought we were in really good shape when that happened," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We just couldn’t hold it. We did a great job of coming back."
After Ramirez tied the game, Rob Wooten got the first two outs of the seventh inning before allowing a two-out double to Josh Willingham. Roenicke turned to left-hander Will Smith with the left-handed hitting Oswaldo Arcia due up.
Smith entered Wednesday having allowed just four hits to left-handed hitters all season and just three hits on non-fastballs, but Arcia stayed on a 2-2 slider and hit it into right for an RBI single. Trevor Plouffe followed with an RBI single to put the Twins up 6-4.
The first run was charged to Wooten, just the fourth of 19 inherited runners to score against Smith. Arcia scoring on Plouffe’s single was just the second earned run charged to Smith this season.
"You can’t expect the guy to be perfect," Roenicke said. "He’s throwing the ball great and he will continue to throw the ball great. He just left a slider up a little bit, and Arcia did a nice job of hitting. Against Will Smith, not many left-handed hitters are going to hit his breaking ball."
The Brewers fell behind 4-1 thanks in part due to another home run allowed by starter Marco Estrada. With Milwaukee up 1-0 in the fourth, Estrada walked the first hitter in the inning and allowed a one-out single to Willingham.
Arcia followed with a three-run home run off the foul pole in right, putting Minnesota up 3-1. It was the 18th home run allowed by Estrada this season, by far the most in the majors. 24 of the 34 earned runs scored against Estrada in 2014 have come via the home run.
"I thought he was going to get on a roll, and he never did," Brewers pitching coach Rick Kranitz said of Estrada. "Any time you walk the leadoff hitter, I think it was in the fourth inning when he gave up the runs, you can’t walk that guy with the middle of the order coming up.
"We have to make pitches when we have to. You have to make pitches. Those three-run home runs really come back to hurt you. That’s tough."
The fourth run scored against Estrada was a tough one, as the right-hander appeared to have Willingham struck out with the bases loaded in the fifth. Home-plate umpire Andy Fletcher instead called the 3-2 pitch a ball to force in a run.
"I think the bases loaded walk, the 3-2 pitch was a strike," Roenicke said. "I probably should have gone out there. It was a strike."
Milwaukee’s pitching staff has now allowed six or more runs in three of its last five games, including back-to-back games to a middle of the pack offensive team in the Twins.
"We have to do a better job of making pitches," Kranitz said. "We have to do a better job of keeping teams like this to under six or eight runs. We’re better than this and we’re not showing it."