MILWAUKEE (AP) — Torii Hunter and the Minnesota Twins made it close.
Hunter homered during a ninth-inning rally that fell short, and the Twins lost to the Milwaukee Brewers 5-3 Sunday.
Ryan Braun and Adam Lind hit two-run homers in the eighth that put Milwaukee ahead 5-1.
Facing Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez, the Twins gave themselves a chance. Hunter, who homered twice Saturday, hit a two-run homer.
Two quick outs followed, but then the Twins got a pair of singles to put runners at the corners. Brian Dozier, who had hit safely in all nine previous career games at Miller Park, took a called third strike to end the game and help the Brewers take the three-game series.
“He knows how to pitch,” Hunter said of Rodriguez. “We just tried to fight him the best we could, and it the end, he prevailed.”
Will Smith (4-0) retired the Twins in order in the eighth.
The Brewers pushed a run across off reliever Blaine Boyer in the seventh. Aramis Ramirez led off with a double and left for pinch-runner Hector Gomez, who advanced on a sacrifice and scored when Gerardo Parra, batting for starter Mike Fiers, lined a single.
It was tied at 1 when Jonathan Lucroy opened the Milwaukee eighth with a walk from reliever Casey Fien (2-3). Braun followed with his 15th home run.
“There’s strikes and then there’s quality strikes and I didn’t throw enough quality strikes,” Fien said. “The strikes I did throw, they hit.”
Carlos Gomez then singled, stole second and scored on Lind’s 11th homer.
Twins manager Paul Molitor urged caution with his bullpen, not blame.
“You can’t overreact to the game where guys that have been doing the job don’t have their best days,” Molitor said. “Obviously, the margin of error was really small. Today, they kind of got bit.”
Twins starter Tommy Milone cruised through the first five innings with seven strikeouts and one hit, a bloop single by Hernan Perez in the second.
Milone went six innings and allowed two hits.
Molitor was impressed with the left-hander’s effort.
“He was solid,” Molitor said. “He put up a lot of zeros for us and gave us a chance. I was hoping when he came out of the game, we could get him a run and maybe get him a win. It was looking good, but the Brewers have played us tough.”
Brewers starter Mike Fiers was just as effective through six, retiring 16 of the first 20 batters, and holding the Twins to two hits. In the seventh, Joe Mauer and Trevor Plouffe reached on singles. One out later, Kurt Suzuki walked and Eduardo Escobar’s sacrifice fly into left was just deep enough for Mauer to beat the throw home.
Fiers went seven innings, allowed four hits, struck out four and walked three.
Twins: Molitor hasn’t determined yet how to reshuffle the starting rotation after RHP Ervin Santana returns July 5 following his 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. “It’s not a no-brainer as far as what the solution will be,” Molitor said. The 32-year-old right-hander, thought to be the No. 2 starter, is in his first year with the Twins after signing a four-year, $55 million contract in the offseason. He also has a $14 million team option for a fifth year.
Brewers: No date has been set for LF Khris Davis’ rehab assignment. He’s been on the 15-day DL with a torn meniscus in his right knee.
Twins: RHP Mike Pelfrey (5-4) makes his eighth career start and ninth career appearance against the Reds in Cincinnati on Monday. He last faced the Reds on July 27, 2011, while with the New York Mets.
Brewers: RHP Jimmy Nelson (4-8) aims for his seventh quality start and first ever against the Phillies in Philadelphia on Monday.
Molitor was honored by his former team with a bobblehead. “For them to do one for the visiting manager, I thought that was a pretty nice gesture,” he said. “The players are giving me a hard time, which makes it fun.”
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