Jim Thome has raked in the frequent-flier miles to and from Fort Myers, Fla., to rehab his 40-year old body after injuries, find his swing and return to a Twins lineup that has lacked bite for most of the season.
But Thome is healthy again following a second stint on the disabled list. He got hold of one on Friday and propelled the Twins to a 6-2 victory over Milwaukee in an interleague game at Target Field in front of a season-high announced crowd of 40,812.
Thome's three-run homer in the first inning gave them a 3-1 lead, and they never looked back. Lefthander Francisco Liriano pitched seven solid innings, and the Twins went on to win their third consecutive game after losing six in a row. And they ended a seven-game losing streak to the Brewers, which included three losses at Miller Park last weekend.
"A good win for us coming off an off day against a very good team that just waxed us over at their place," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The Brewers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first when Carlos Gomez hit a home run to center field off Twins starter Francisco Liriano and sprinted around the bases in 16 seconds. The Twins entered the game 4-30 when the opponent scores first.
Joe Mauer singled to left -- the first of his three hits -- and Michael Cuddyer walked with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo threw a 0-1 breaking ball that didn't break, and Thome hammered it 380 feet and over the left-center field wall.
"A big boost for us," Gardenhire said. "Everyone gets excited when Jim Thome comes up and he crushed that ball in the seats and that's a big huge boost for us after we got down quick in the ballgame. That's kind of what we are hoping for as we ago along here. If we can keep those guys healthy, some of those things can happen."
It was Thome's fifth homer of the season. It also was his first since May 23 against Seattle -- which also is the last time a Twins designated hitter hit a home run. Twins designated hitters went 107 plate appearances without a homer before Friday.
It was also Thome's 594th career homer.
Milwaukee closed to within 3-2 in the third when Ryan Braun drove in Rickie Weeks with a single.
The Twins pushed home two runs in the fifth, one when Mauer's grounder skipped through Prince Fielder's legs for an error, scoring Ben Revere, and the other when Michael Cuddyer hit into a double play. Danny Valencia drove in Mauer with a single in the eighth.
Liriano was shaky early, throwing 74 pitches through four innings. But Liriano found his control and lasted seven innings, holding the Brewers to two runs, four hits and two walks while striking out seven. He retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced.
The Twins are 35-45 through 80 games. Thome has been available for exactly half of those games. He missed 19 games in May because of a left oblique strain and 21 days because of sore left quad and back.
But that familiar swing was on display Friday.
"It does [feel good], especially being on the DL and being in Florida trying to get back, and still trying to kind of get a feel here and get back going," Thome said. "Any time you can do something, especially the way the guys have been playing, and contribute and help out, is good, no doubt."