MILWAUKEE — Eric Thames has a penchant for game-changing home runs this season.
Thames hit a two-run homer that accounted for the game's only runs as the Milwaukee Brewers slipped past the Minnesota Twins 2-0 on Tuesday. Thames has three home runs in the past six games.
"I'd say that's a hot streak," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Eight of Thames' 12 homers have put the Brewers on the board and seven have given his team a lead.
Milwaukee broke through in the fifth against Minnesota starter Jake Odorizzi (3-6) when pinch-hitter Nate Orf walked and stole second before Thames lined a homer that just cleared the right-field fence.
"It was a cutter that didn't get in far enough," Odorizzi said. "I just didn't execute it, plain and simple. I just didn't get enough break on it. Right pitch, just bad execution and it turns out to be the deciding factor."
Thames reached base three times in four at-bats. After the game, he credited Milwaukee's pitching, which held Minnesota to two hits.
"Our bullpen has been the hammer for us," Thames said. "They have been the ones to pick us up, but we need to start scoring more, getting guys on base and driving them in and give them breathing room."
It wasn't just the bullpen on this day.
Milwaukee starter Junior Guerra (5-5) pitched five shutout innings. He gave up two hits while walking three and striking out eight and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the first after giving up a double and two walks.
"Being able to put up a zero up there and not let them score was very big," Guerra said through team translator Carlos Brizuela. "Walks are very lethal, especially for a starter."
Josh Hader pitched a season-high three innings in relief for the Brewers and didn't allow a hit. Closer Corey Knebel notched his ninth save in 11 attempts by striking out the side in the ninth.
Both starting pitchers held their opponents in check but struggled with high pitch counts. Guerra threw 89 pitches. Odorizzi gave up two runs and four hits in five innings. He walked four and struck out nine but threw 109 pitches.
The Twins fell to 1-7 on their current nine-game road trip.
The Twins became the first team whose first baseman, Joe Mauer, played an entire game and had no putouts or assists since Edwin Encarnacion did it with Toronto against Baltimore on Aug. 25, 2012. This has happened just six other times in the past 20 years and never to the Twins.
"There wasn't a ground ball today, which is a baseball oddity," Molitor said. "I can't really explain it other than Odorizzi, we know, is a fly ball guy."
In the ninth, home plate umpire Marty Foster called Jake Cave out on strikes but didn't raise his arm right away with the signal, prompting an argument from Molitor.
"It looked like, as simply as I can state it, that he wasn't going to make the call," Molitor said. "Jake made the mistake of walking away, and it looked like (Foster) put his arm up after the fact. He said that he had called it right away but that he was choking on his Nicorette mints."
Twins: Recalled LHP Gabriel Moya from Triple-A Rochester and optioned RHP Zack Littell to Rochester. Littell was the losing pitcher in Monday's 10-inning game. ...2B Brian Dozier didn't start so he could rest but entered the game in the seventh. "It's always tough to sit (Dozier)," Molitor said. "I think if he had his druthers, he would play 162 games and start them all."
Brewers: OF Christian Yelich didn't start for the fifth consecutive game due to lower back tightness but entered in the ninth as a defensive replacement. ..OF Lorenzo Cain (left groin strain) is eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday, but Brewers manager Craig Counsell said he likely won't be in the lineup right away. "There's enough caution there that we've got to get over the last hurdle," Counsell said. "We're not to 100 percent yet." ... RHP Zach Davies (right shoulder tightness) is dealing with back soreness and stiffness. "He won't throw until that's gone," Counsell said. "That's going to set him back."
Twins: Jose Berrios (8-6, 3.52 ERA) gets the start in the three-game series finale. Berrios will face the Brewers for the first time in his career.
Brewers: Chase Anderson (6-6, 4.18) has held opponents to a .208 batting average this season.