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Brewers gift-wrap Twins win

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Associated Press
June 24, 2009
— As workers raced the clock to repair flood damage inside Miller Park’s clubhouses before Tuesday night’s game, Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin phoned Twins GM Bill Smith a request.

“I told (the Twins) not to come to the ballpark until 3 o’clock,” Melvin said. “And I told them Joe Mauer didn’t have to come until Friday.”


Melvin was kidding about Mauer, of course, but he probably should have reminded his own team to show up, mentally.


The Twins have brought out the worst in the Brewers this season, and Milwaukee practically gift-wrapped this 7-3 victory for the Twins before an announced sellout crowd of 42,008.


Milwaukee gaffes led to seven runs for the Twins in the first three innings on a night Francisco Liriano needed all the help he could get. Mauer also went 0-for-5, dropping his average below .400 for only the second time this season, as he now sits at .395.


But the Twins claimed their fifth consecutive victory over the Brewers dating to last season. Minnesota also outscored Milwaukee 23-8 in a three-game sweep last month at the Metrodome.


With the Twins leading this one 7-3, Manager Ron Gardenhire let Liriano (3-8) labor through the fifth inning for his first victory in eight starts.


After striking out Jason Kendall for the final out of the fifth—on his season-high 117th pitch—Liriano pounded his left hand into his glove.


He hadn’t won since May 9, and this one wasn’t pretty. He allowed three runs on seven hits and five walks, throwing 67 strikes and 50 balls. He threw first-pitch strikes to just eight of his first 24 batters.


But the Brewers committed worse sins than that. The Twins owed their three-run, first-inning lead to a wild pitch that bounced away from Kendall. Brewers starter Jeff Suppan (5-5) fanned Cuddyer for what have been the third out, but Cuddyer reached first, loading the bases, when the curve ball bounced to the backstop.


Crede made that hurt, drilling his double into the left-center gap.


The Brewers trimmed the lead to 3-2 in the first inning, but Carlos Gomez made it 4-2 in the second with an aggressive two-out base running play. He dropped a bloop single into short right-center field, then hustled safely into second base, seemingly surprising veteran center fielder Mike Cameron.


Brendan Harris lined a single to center, scoring Gomez.


Once again, Liriano let the Brewers creep back, as they trimmed the lead to 4-3 that inning before the Twins added three more gift runs in the third.


That time, Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy bobbled a tailor-made double play grounder from Joe Crede. Delmon Young followed with a run-scoring double and Gomez added a two-run single just over Hardy’s head.


Liriano didn’t give up another run, but none of his innings were easy. Fortunately for the Twins, R.A. Dickey replaced him with two quick innings, Matt Guerrier pitched the eighth and Joe Nathan breezed through the ninth in a non-save situation.



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