MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Twins closer Matt Capps can’t remember a tougher game in his career than the one he pitched in Saturday night.
Dealt a 7-4 lead to start the ninth inning, Capps (2-4) blew his sixth save of the season for Minnesota by allowing four runs to the Milwaukee Brewers in an 8-7 loss.
“You don’t want to leave this taste in everybody’s mouth, especially your own,” said Capps, whose outing ended Minnesota’s three-game winning streak. “I certainly know I’m better than that. It’s a tough night. It’s not the first tough night I’ve had. It might be the worst night I’ve had that I can remember in my career.”
Capps surrendered three straight singles to start the ninth, leading to one run, before recovering for two quick outs. Milwaukee’s Nyjer Morgan then lofted a two-run double off the right-field wall, just out of the reach of Minnesota right fielder Michael Cuddyer’s glove, to tie the game 7-all.
Pinch-hitter George Kottaras then capped the inning with the go-ahead RBI single.
“I was up in the zone and out over the heart of the plate, and they came out swinging,” Capps said. “Leadoff guy got on and I tried to get a ground ball, it found a hole and it just snowballed. You can’t be successful here pitching up in the zone and that’s what I was doing today. It’s not acceptable. It sucks.”
Takashi Saito (1-1) pitched an inning of scoreless relief and John Axford pitched the ninth for his 21st save in 23 chances.
The Twins blew a 7-0 lead that they built on 13 hits in four innings. They had one hit the rest of the way.
“Anytime you get the ball in your closer’s hands and you lose, it’s really hard,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Capps got the ball out and over the plate a few too many times. When you lose a game like that, it’s always tougher. It’s not a good night for him. We’ll take our chances with him. It just didn’t work out for us tonight.”
Capps’ struggles erased another strong outing for starter Carl Pavano, who allowed eight hits and four runs — three earned — in 7 2-3 innings.
Pavano has a 2.70 ERA since the beginning of June and has pitched at least seven innings in five of the six starts. He allowed only two hits the first four innings, before Milwaukee started to chip away at the lead with a single run in the fifth, two runs in the sixth and a run in the eighth.
“I didn’t exactly leave the team a big cushion,” Pavano said, later adding: “They made some good adjustments and I thought I could have done a better job making some adjustments as far as pitch selection. I ended up giving up some tough runs.”
Ryan Braun doubled to extend his hitting streak to 22 games for the Brewers, who ended a four-game slide. Milwaukee is 3-9 in its past 12 road games. Morgan finished a single shy of the cycle and had three RBIs.
Brewers’ starter Chris Narveson struggled to find his rhythm, allowing 14 hits and seven earned runs in 4 2-3 innings. He gave up two earned runs on five hits in 6 2-3 innings to beat Minnesota in his previous start.
Cuddyer and Danny Valencia homered on consecutive pitches with one out in the third for a 3-0 lead. Valencia had three hits and drove in three runs.
Narveson retired the first two Twins hitters in the fourth before Alexi Casilla doubled off the left-field wall. After a walk to Joe Mauer, Cuddyer, Valencia, Hughes and Repko had RBI singles to make it 7-0.
“One thing that this team has done well of is regrouping; come in the next day and worry about the next day,” Cuddyer said. “To say it’s emotionally draining, yeah, it’s a tough loss, there’s no question about that. But I think we’ll be able to regroup and come out tomorrow and put this one in the rearview mirror.”
NOTES: The paid attendance of 41,378 was the largest regular-season crowd at Target Field. … Minnesota Lynx stars Candice Wiggins and Maya Moore threw out the first pitch. Wiggins is the daughter of former big leaguer Alan Wiggins. … Milwaukee optioned RHP Tim Dillard to Triple-A Nashville to make room for Saito. … Minnesota LF Delmon Young, on the disabled list since June 26 with a sprained right ankle, is scheduled to leave Sunday for a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester.
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