Minnesota Twins' Josh Willingham hits a three-run home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP
Twins power way to victory over Brewers in Milwaukee
- Article by: La Velle E. Neal III
- Star Tribune
- June 4, 2014 - 11:02 AM
MILWAUKEE – The Twins headed home Tuesday, hopeful their offense — and a couple of their key hitters — are showing signs of breaking out.
Josh Willingham blasted a three-run homer and Brian Dozier added a two-run shot as the Twins pulled away to a 6-4 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park. The Twins hit staff ace Yovani Gallardo like no other team has this season, leading to a season-high six earned runs as well as his shortest appearance of the season, five innings.
Willingham heads to Target Field with a seven-game hitting streak, during which he’s slugged four home runs with 10 RBI. The Twins have gone 3-1 in the past four games in which he has homered. Willingham is showing signs of being “Hammer” again, which would be a big boost to the Twins’ offense.
Willingham battled injuries throughout the 2013 season, eventually requiring in-season knee surgery. He batted a career-low .208 with 14 homers and 48 RBI.
He got off on the wrong foot this season when he was hit by a pitch during the first week of the season, suffering a small fracture in his left wrist and missing 41 games.
“Our concern was that he was swinging good when he started the season,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You never know after you break a bone how it is going to come back. He’s come back, he’s on the baseball and I still think his legs are underneath him. He doesn’t have the knee problems and that has allowed him to do what he needs to do to get the bat head out.”
Willingham said he only felt as good as he does now in spurts last season.
“Hopefully I can just being consistent. That’s the goal,” he said.
The score was tied 1-1 in the third inning when Dozier and Joe Mauer opened the inning with singles. Willingham jumped on the first pitch from Gallardo and sent it into the Harley-Davidson section in left-center for a three-run homer and a 4-1 Twins lead.
Milwaukee’s Martin Maldonado drove in a run with a single in the fourth to make it 4-2. Danny Santana bunted for a hit in the top of the fifth, then Dozier followed with a two-run homer to left to make it 6-2. It was Dozier’s first home run in 64 plate appearances.
“He had a little down spot but hopefully the last couple of nights he’s been seeing the ball well,” Willingham said of Dozier. “He’s been putting good swings on the ball when he was going bad, too.”
Twins righthander Samuel Deduno was far from sharp, walking a season-high four batters and lasting only five innings, tying for his shortest outing of the season.
He escaped serious damage thanks to three double plays turned by the defense, including an impressive 5-4-3 combination that barely got the speedy Carlos Gomez at first base to end the fifth.
Milwaukee closed to 6-3 in the eighth inning on Lyle Overbay’s RBI single and got a sacrifice fly from Ryan Braun in the ninth, but Glen Perkins, after walking two batters, was able to polish off the Brewers and record his 15th save.
The Twins finished out a 3-2 road trip that has them two games under .500 (27-29).
“Our goal is to get to .500 and float above that and get on our way after that,” Gardenhire said, “So we’re still not there.”
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