Brewers 5, Twins 3
The Milwaukee Brewers needed a game like this after three
straight one-run losses.
None more than John Axford.
Martin Maldonado’s two-run, tiebreaking home run in the ninth
inning off Matt Capps pushed the Brewers past the Minnesota Twins
5-3 on Friday night, and Axford bounced back from consecutive blown
saves to preserve the lead.
”I want to be there as many times as possible,” Axford said,
smiling, ”because then we’re always winning, right?
Corey Hart doubled to start the ninth against Capps (1-4). Then
with two outs and two strikes, Maldonado drove a fastball into the
”I’ve got to get the heater down,” Capps said. ”I get it
down, it’s a groundball to short.”
Axford promptly pitched a 1-2-3 inning for his 11th save, and
those excruciating defeats in Kansas City were quickly
”It can hurt the team, and it can hurt the guy that’s out there
closing. So all that was very important to me,” manager Ron
Ryan Braun ended Francisco Liriano’s no-hit bid with a one-out,
three-run homer in the sixth inning on the left-hander’s 97th pitch
after a pair of walks. Trevor Plouffe tied the game at 3 off Yovani
Gallardo in the bottom of the frame with his second home run of the
night, his seventh in seven games and 14th of the season. But Manny
Parra, Kameron Loe (3-2) and Axford allowed the Twins only two
singles over the final three innings.
Braun said he never ”ever” expects Axford to blow a save.
”I still feel 100 percent with him out there closing the game.
You saw he proved it tonight,” Gallardo said. ”The past few days
things haven’t gone his way, but you couldn’t notice it out there
on the mound.”
Liriano struck out six in six innings, walking four, hitting one
batter and allowing just the one hit. He was sharp from the start,
striking out the side in the second and recording six groundball
outs over the first five innings.
The Twins had a prime opportunity to further pad their lead by
following Plouffe’s home run, on his 26th birthday, with three
straight singles, the last by Casilla that made the score 2-0.
But Denard Span gave Gallardo his first out with a sacrifice
bunt. That put both runners in scoring position, but Ben Revere
bounced out and after an intentional walk to Mauer, Josh
Willingham’s fly ball to center field didn’t quite reach the
After taking all that time to only produce two runs, with
Liriano sitting in the dugout and losing his rhythm, the Twins lost
some of their edge. Liriano walked ninth hitter Edwin Maysonet and
then Carlos Gomez – he of the .303 on-base percentage entering the
game – for a second time with one out.
Pitching coach Rick Anderson visited Liriano on the mound, Brian
Duensing began warming up in the bullpen and … Liriano hung an
0-2 slider that Braun hit over the center-field wall.
”Honestly? Just hoping not to strike out. His stuff was so good
tonight,” Braun said.
Gallardo needed 109 pitches to finish six innings, but after
allowing a pair of infield singles following Plouffe’s second homer
he struck out Span to end that threat. Gallardo struck out seven
and walked two while giving up eight hits.
”That’s as good as he’s thrown this year,” Roenicke said.
This is the Liriano the Twins have had to settle for, six years
after his sensational rookie debut and subsequent elbow injury. In
four starts since returning to the rotation last month, Liriano has
a 3.04 with 29 strikeouts and just 12 hits allowed in 23 2-3
innings. But he’s still struggling to bear down and get that
critical out when he and the Twins need it.
”When you walk the leadoff guy, you end up getting yourself in
a little bit of a jam,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
NOTES: RH Mike Fiers (1-2, 4.50 ERA) pitches for the Brewers in
Saturday’s matinee against fellow rookie RH Liam Hendriks (0-2,
9.00) of the Twins. Fiers will make his fourth start for the
Brewers. Hendriks will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to
rejoin the rotation after four starts at the beginning of the
season for the Twins. … Braun has at least one hit in his last 20
interleague games, batting .408 in that stretch. … Plouffe is
hitting .396 with four doubles, nine homers and 16 RBIs in 12 games