MINNEAPOLIS - Joe Mauer had three hits, a homer and two RBIs to help Anthony Swarzak win his major league debut, pushing the Minnesota Twins past the Brewers 6-2 on Saturday night and ensuring Milwaukee's first series loss in five weeks.
Swarzak sprinkled five singles over seven shutout innings, walking two and striking out three. The 23-year-old had runners on with one out or less in five different innings, but he put his fastball in the right places and was able to walk confidently off the mound without any damage.
The Brewers won eight of their last 10 series, tying two, while surging to the top of the NL Central following a 4-9 start. This is their first two-game losing streak since the first two days of May.
With thousands of Wisconsinites filling out the crowd of 40,547, a bunch of "let's go Brewers!" chants roared before the game.
Swarzak and Mauer made sure they didn't last.
Minnesota's second-round draft pick in 2004, Swarzak will probably be bumped from the rotation when Glen Perkins returns next week, but his performance might have been strong enough to warrant a bullpen spot.
Swarzak's career was in trouble last season, when he was roughed up in 20 starts for Double-A New Britain. The year before, he tested positive for a drug of abuse — not a performance-enhancer — and drew a 50-game suspension. The right-hander righted himself at Triple-A Rochester with five stellar starts, though, and impressed manager Ron Gardenhire with his work ethic in spring training.
"He was kind of on a mission," Gardenhire said.
Mauer's hitting like he's on a mission, too.
He hit his ninth home run — his career high is 13 — in just his 21st game, a two-out liner to left in the fifth against Braden Looper (4-3) that made it 5-0 Minnesota. Mauer scored three runs and drew a walk, too, and has hit in 18 of those 21 games since coming off the disabled list.
Joe Crede homered for the Twins, who used Ryan Braun's first throwing error in 190 games as a left fielder to take a 3-0 lead in the third. It was Mauer who put the pressure on, of course, with an opposite-field single poked through the hole.
As one run scored, Denard Span raced for third but neither third baseman Bill Hall nor shortstop Craig Counsell were to the base in time. The throw skipped through to the dugout to let Span score and Mauer take third. He scored on Justin Morneau's sacrifice fly.
Looper has given up five runs in three of his last four starts.
Notes:@ Hall is 1-for-25 on this trip and hitting .172 against RH pitchers this year. ... The bat Minnesota's Michael Cuddyer broke on his triple that completed the cycle in Friday's game has been sent to the Hall of Fame. ... RF Corey Hart, who has a mild bruise on his hand, was given the night off. That gave Jody Gerut, acquired two days earlier from the Padres, his first start for the Brewers.