Span, Twins avoid sweep by Brewers
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — As a rainy afternoon turned into early evening, Denard Span said everyone in the Twins dugout had the look of wanting someone to come through with a clutch hit.
Span did just that.
He had an RBI single with two outs in the 15th inning, giving Minnesota a 5-4, come-from-behind victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday in the longest game played at 2-year-old Target Field.
“I was just trying to get us to dinner,” Span said, smiling.
Span and Jamey Carroll had four hits apiece for the Twins, who rallied from a three-run deficit. Minnesota’s bullpen pitched nine shutout innings. Anthony Swarzak (1-4) worked a perfect 15th for the win in a game that lasted 4 hours, 50 minutes.
Trevor Plouffe led off the 15th with a single off Tim Dillard (0-2), and went to second on a single by Brian Dozier, two batters later. Carroll then lined a single to right field. Plouffe ran through a stop sign by third base coach Steve Liddle and was tagged out in a rundown. Dozier advanced to third base during the play.
Left-hander Juan Perez came in to face Span, who hit the third pitch he saw between the first and second basemen for the winning RBI.
“That was probably my first walk-off since the minor leagues,” Span said. “Definitely, a lot of fun.”
He wouldn’t have had that opportunity if not for the scoreless efforts of Swarzak, Alex Burnett, Jared Burton, Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing and Jeff Gray.
“Jeff Gray was the pitcher of the game as far as I’m concerned,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
The right-hander who had allowed six runs in his previous 4 2-3 innings over four appearances, yet kept his game plan simple.
“I just wanted to throw strikes, try to get ahead, make my pitches and hopefully they’ll put them in play at our guys,” Gray said. “I was just trying to eat up as many innings as possible without giving up some runs and hopefully we can score one.”
Twins catcher Joe Mauer left the game in the seventh inning with a bruised right quadriceps. He’s day to day.
“I’m pretty stiff,” he said. “It’s good timing for the off day tomorrow.”
Corey Hart connected for a three-run homer in the fifth to give Milwaukee a 4-1 lead. Rickie Weeks and Nyjer Morgan each had three hits for the Brewers.
Minnesota had the bases loaded against Jose Veras in the 12th, but Ryan Doumit grounded out to end the threat.
Before that inning, the game was interrupted by a 42-minute rain delay. It was the second time significant showers fell during the game, but the first with the possibility of lightning being present.
Both teams had good chances to end it before the delay. The Brewers had Carlos Gomez at second with one out in the ninth, but Aramis Ramirez and Hart flew out to right field.
Minnesota got Doumit to third base with two outs in the 11th, but Span grounded out and the tarps were unrolled.
“We both could have won the game a lot earlier. That’s the way it goes,” said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.
Down 4-1 in the seventh, and with the first wave of rain having stopped, Minnesota got RBI singles from Carroll, Ben Revere and Mauer to tie the game against Zack Greinke.
In eight innings, Greinke allowed 12 hits and four runs, striking out six — including Josh Willingham four times. Greinke allowed more than one earned run for just the second time in eight starts.
“Most of their hits were on mistakes, just catching too much of the plate. They had a good approach, not trying to do too much. When they stayed with what they were given, they went up the middle and they hit the ball pretty well,” Greinke said.
With a light rain falling in the fifth, Hart hit a full-count pitch from Nick Blackburn into the right field stands to give Milwaukee a 4-1 lead.
Blackburn, who has not pitched more than six innings in any of his 10 starts this season, flirted with danger in every inning, but the Brewers failed to get a key hit until Hart’s homer.
Milwaukee left six runners on base in the first four innings against Blackburn, who allowed nine hits in six innings.
An RBI single by Ramirez gave the Brewers a 1-0 lead in the first. Milwaukee had an excellent chance to extend that lead in the second when Weeks tripled with one out. But he was thrown out trying to score on a grounder to third.
The Brewers had two on with one out in the third, but a diving stop by Justin Morneau led to a double play.
“A lot of things happened today; I’m just glad we won the ballgame,” Gardenhire said.
NOTES: Twins closer Matt Capps missed the game as a precautionary measure with right shoulder soreness. Gardenhire hopes Capps will be ready when the Twins play at Pittsburgh Tuesday. The Twins are off Monday. … Scott Diamond (5-2, 2.13) is scheduled to start for Minnesota against the Pirates Kevin Correia (2-6, 4.43) … Milwaukee returns home to face Toronto Monday. The Brewers are scheduled to send Randy Wolf (2-5, 5.06) to the mound against Henderson Alvarez (3-3, 3.87). … Span doubled in the fifth to end an 0-for 14 stretch. … Revere made a stumbling catch at the warning track in right field to rob Norichika Aoki of an extra-base hit starting off the 11th, his third outstanding catch of the game.