Brewers hold off Twins
By Jon Krawczynski, AP Baseball Writer
MINNEAPOLIS -- Trevor Hoffman returned to help Milwaukee's patchwork pitching staff and Corey Hart and Prince Fielder homered in the Brewers' 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.
Hoffman pitched a perfect eighth inning in his 1,000th career appearance and the Brewers barely held on to snap an eight-game losing streak.
John Axford allowed an RBI-single to Jason Kubel and the Twins had the bases loaded with two outs. But Axford struck out Trevor Plouffe to end it.
Justin Morneau had two hits, two walks and an RBI to raise his AL-leading average to .383. But he struck out with a runner on second in the ninth and the Twins left 14 runners on base to miss the chance for a sweep.
Manny Parra (1-3) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.
Carl Pavano (4-5) gave up four runs on six hits in eight innings for the Twins.
Hoffman had not pitched in five games since blowing his fifth save in 10 chances against Cincinnati on May 18. Manager Ken Macha gave him the time off to try and figure things out, and Hoffman sure looked good on Sunday.
He buckled Plouffe's knees with his trademark changeup to start the inning, then made a backhanded stab on a comebacker from pinch hitter Joe Mauer before getting Alexi Casilla to fly out weakly to third base to end the inning.
The Brewers pitching situation was in such disarray that they had to use Parra, who was previously scheduled to start on Sunday, in the 12-inning loss on Saturday night. So Macha decided to start Marco Estrada, who threw 21 pitches in the seventh inning on Saturday, in the series finale on Sunday and used Parra to back him up after three innings.
The Twins briefly took the lead in the third on a single by Orlando Hudson and a double by Morneau, but Hart responded with the longest home run hit in Target Field. His 440-foot, two-run shot reached the first row in the third deck of left field, and Fielder added a solo homer for a 4-2 lead in the sixth.
Estrada gave up two runs in three innings, Parra pitched two scoreless innings after taking the loss in relief on Saturday night and Zach Braddock pitched two scoreless innings in his major league debut before Hoffman took over.
The Twins certainly made life easier on the Brew Crew's beleaguered pitchers by letting them off the hook time and again. They had runners on second and third and no outs in the fifth when Jason Kubel struck out. Delmon Young was intentionally walked to load the bases before Brendan Harris struck out looking and Plouffe ended the inning with a fielder's choice.
Michael Cuddyer struck out with runners on second and third in the sixth and the Twins left the tying run on third base to end the game.
NOTES: Fielder got plunked twice in the game, once on a pitch by Pavano and once by Hudson, who made a leaping catch in the fourth and hit Fielder in the back while trying to double him up at 1B. ... Twins SS J.J. Hardy took some swings and said his injured wrist is still a little sore, but he's optimistic he will be able to come off the disabled list and play against the Yankees on Tuesday night.