Willingham, Dozier homers help Twins win
By Andrew Wagner
MILWAUKEE — If the Milwaukee Brewers want to remain in the driver’s seat atop the National League Central, they need right-hander Yovani Gallardo to get into a groove.
Gallardo (3-4) gave up home runs to left fielder Josh Willingham and second baseman Brian Dozier as the Minnesota Twins earned a series split with a 6-4 victory over the Brewers Tuesday night in Milwaukee.
The Brewers’ right-hander snapped a three-game losing streak while recording his first victory since April 5 his last time out, but struggled for the most part in the month of May, going 1-3 with a 5.79 ERA.
His struggles continued Tuesday, as he lasted just five innings while giving up six runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out five.
“The last three or four games (have been a struggle), but he’s been able to get by by making a big pitch when he needs to,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “He didn’t do that today. They didn’t miss his mistakes.”
The key hit was Willingham’s three-run homer in the third inning that broke a 1-1 tie.
Gallardo’s offense didn’t offer much help, either.
The Brewers had scored at least six runs in seven of their last eight games but were stymied Tuesday by Twins right-hander Sam Deduno (2-3) and the Twins’ defense, which turned three inning-ending double plays.
“We had chances to put some runs on the board and still be in the ballgame,” Roenicke said. “We had enough chances to be ahead in the ballgame. We’ve been doing a pretty good job offensively, so that is going to happen.”
Gallardo himself hit into the biggest double play of the day in the fourth.
With the Brewers trailing 4-2 after Milwaukee catcher Martin Maldonado drove in left fielder Khris Davis in the fourth, the Brewers loaded the bases against Deduno.
He fell behind 0-2 to Gallardo, who bounced a fastball to shortstop Eduardo Escobar, who started a double play to end the inning.
“That’s the kind of day it was,” Gallardo said. “The one thing I shouldn’t do happened. Sure enough, I hit a groundball into a double play. He throws a cutter. Basically every pitch is a cutter. It just got in.”
Minnesota made it a 6-2 game in the fifth on Dozier’s team-leading 12th home run of the season before Gallardo struck out three in a row, closing out his day.
“After giving up four runs, you have to keep it there,” Gallardo said. “You’re not allowed to give up any more. I have to stop making mistakes with guys on.”
Milwaukee again put two on in the fifth, but center fielder Carlos Gomez wiped out the threat by hitting into another double play.
“You need those,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the double plays. “If you’re going to walk people, you damn sure better get ground balls and get double plays.”
Right fielder Ryan Braun gave Milwaukee a 1-0 lead in the first when he hit into a fielder’s choice that scored shortstop Jean Segura.
The Twins tied the game in the second when catcher Josmil Pinto scored third baseman Trevor Plouffe with an RBI single.
After Gallardo gave up back-to-back one-out singles to Dozier and first baseman Joe Mauer, left fielder Willingham broke the game open with his fourth home run of the season — a three-run shot to center in the third inning.
Willingham, a .321 career hitter at Miller Park with seven home runs and 21 RBIs, also extended his hitting streak to seven games. He’s 9-for-22 during that stretch.
“Hopefully I can just keep being consistent,” Willingham said. “That’s the goal. I don’t know about pain, just getting it back more than anything. I’ve always liked hitting here.”
The Brewers added runs in the eighth and ninth, but Twins closer Glen Perkins struck out Gomez to lock up his 15th save of the season.
CREW CUTS: The game was briefly delayed before the eighth inning while medical and security staff tended to a fan who fell from a Miller Park restaurant patio into the Brewers’ bullpen. The team said the man was conscious and alert and transferred to a local hospital for further examination. ... Milwaukee optioned utility man Elian Herrera to Triple-A Nashville after the game and plans to activate 3B Aramis Ramirez from the 15-day disabled list Wednesday. ... With rookie speedster Danny Santana leading off for Minnesota on Tuesday, 2B Brian Dozier batted in the No. 2 spot for fourth time this season. ... Santana’s second straight start also left OF Aaron Hicks on Ron Gardenhire‘s bench for a second consecutive day. ... After two games in Milwaukee, the interleague series resumes Wednesday at Target Field for two more games.