The Twins are limping home from Milwaukee after a three-game sweep added insult to the familiar injuries.
MILWAUKEE - Hopefully the legions of Minnesota fans who flocked to Miller Park for this weekend's interleague showdown enjoyed the tailgating and the brewery tours because it's hard to imagine a worse three days for the Twins.
The Brewers completed a three-game sweep Sunday with a 6-2 victory over Carl Pavano, whose .143 career batting average blended right in with the bottom of the Twins batting order.
The Twins have followed a 15-2 stretch with five consecutive losses, including the final two games in San Francisco, and there was more disheartening injury news in Milwaukee.
On Friday, the Twins learned Justin Morneau will be out until August after having neck surgery. On Saturday, Delmon Young crashed into the left field wall, severely spraining his right ankle.
By Sunday, with catcher Joe Mauer out of the lineup again, the Twins' bottom four hitters were Jason Repko (batting .190), Tsuyoshi Nishioka (.176), Drew Butera (.176) and Pavano.
Chris Narveson, Milwaukee's No. 5 starter, had little trouble holding the Twins to two runs on five hits over 62/3 innings. The Brewers scored three runs in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth, all the runs coming on two-out hits off Pavano.
"My job today was to go out there and end this losing streak, and I wasn't able to do that," said Pavano, who was 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in his previous four starts.
Twins starters went 12-2 with a 1.89 ERA during the 15-2 run. It's hard to expect that kind of dominance, but Minnesota's offense could sure be better.
During that 17-game run, the Twins averaged 4.9 runs per game, and much of that came without Denard Span, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel.
Now the Twins have scored only nine runs in 44 innings since Tuesday's eight-run first-inning outburst against Madison Bumgarner.
"We ran into two pretty good pitching staffs in San Francisco and Milwaukee," Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer said. "And Milwaukee plays lights out [29-11] here at home."
The lineup should look better Monday, when the Twins return to Target Field to play the Dodgers. They can use the DH again, and Jim Thome looks ready after delivering a pinch-hit RBI single in Sunday's seventh inning.
Mauer came off the bench and hit two balls hard -- lining out to left field in the seventh and lining a single to left in the ninth that raised his average to .200.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka also reached the Mendoza Line with two singles in his final two at-bats -- one from each side of the plate.
"We expect to see more of that," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's a good hitter. It takes time. He needs more at-bats. I think it'll be really important to get his confidence going."
Speaking through a translator, Nishioka said: "It wasn't much about confidence. I wasn't putting up numbers until here, and I don't think one game makes much difference. I'm just trying to look forward to the games from [Monday onward]."
The Dodgers are struggling, but after that the Brewers come to Target Field, with Yovani Gallardo, Narveson and Zack Greinke slated to pitch. The Twins are going home, where they've won seven in a row, but that was before they left on a pretty deflating road trip.
Joe Christensen firstname.lastname@example.org
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