Milwaukee turned the first game of the Border Battle into a Brewers Bash.
Righthander Kyle Gibson was knocked around early and too often, and Twins hitters befuddled by lefthander Brent Suter’s craftiness as they lost to Milwaukee 8-3 on Friday.
Jesus Aguilar hit two home runs and Ji-Man Choi added a solo shot for the Brewers as the Twins lost for the fourth time in their past five games.
“Aguilar had a big night, obviously,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “A couple of homers there, a couple of mistakes.”
Gibson’s brief run of solid starts came an abrupt halt as he gave up five earned runs over 5⅓ innings on eight hits and four walks. Mistakes were made two ways: Poor execution and not listening to his catcher, Bobby Wilson.
Choi, called up from the minors to start Friday, blasted a 95-mph fastball over the center field fence in the second inning to open the scoring.
Milwaukee added three runs in the third, two coming on a Aguilar blast down the left field line that landed well into the second deck. Gibson thought he had Aguilar set up for a fastball after throwing a slider away on with the previous pitch.
“Trying to go in more and just left it on the black and up in the nitro zone,” Gibson said.
The Brewers’ Jonathan Villar led off the fourth with a single and eventually came around to score during a double play to put Milwaukee ahead 5-0. Gibson was yanked from the game after facing two batters in the sixth.
Gibson, 1-2, entered Friday with a 2.66 ERA over his previous four starts. He had pitched at least six innings in three of those four outings while holding opponents to a .165 batting average.
Things were much different Friday as Gibson got in front of hitters (19 first pitch strikes) but had trouble finishing them off. Five Brewers batters reached base after he got two strikes on them, something for which Gibson blamed himself.
And Gibson continues to search for his first win since March 31 at Baltimore.
“Too many non-competitive pitches where I just didn’t listen to Bobby [Wilson] really,” Gibson said.
“Shook him off way too much tonight. Whether I overthought myself or whatever it was, he was calling a good game and it was nothing against him, really.
‘‘Most of the pitches I got beat on I was shaking. Just maybe overthinking a little too much.”
Max Kepler provided all of the Twins offense Friday with a sacrifice fly in the sixth and two-run homer in the eighth. He lifted his average to .343 against lefthanded pitchers.
“I told him after the home run that he had four good at-bats tonight,” Molitor said.
Most of the other Twins made weak contact against Suter (3-3), who rarely reached 90 miles per hour with any of his pitches.
He made the ball dart, duck, dive and dodge past the fat part of the Twins’ bats during his 5⅔-inning outing, giving up just one run on five hits and one walk. Eduardo Escobar did go 3-for-4 to raise his average to .292.
But the Twins have scored just 13 runs over their past five games.
“We didn’t do much offensively,” Molitor said. “The cutter was really eating up our right-handers. Our lefthanders had better at-bats overall except for Esco, I would say. Just kind of a lopsided game.”