MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins have won three straight games, all after falling behind early.
They’re not too late to catch up in the playoff race, either, despite losing two key pitchers at the trade deadline and enduring 1-7 stretch that ended a week ago.
Brian Dozier hit his first career grand slam and Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario each homered twice, powering the Twins past the Milwaukee Brewers 11-4 on Tuesday night for a two-game sweep.
“We’re never out of it, and I think that’s kind of been our mentality that we’ve been sticking to,” Dozier said.
Matt Garza (5-6) turned in his shortest and worst start of the season with eight hits and eight runs allowed in 3 1/3 innings for the Brewers, who fell to 4-11 in their last 15 road games. They entered the night 1 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
“It’s a tough one to brush off,” Garza said. “Get rid of it the best way you can.”
Garza took a 4-2 lead into the fourth inning, when Rosario went deep with one out. The Twins then loaded the bases with a single and two walks before Dozier drove a first-pitch fastball to the flag pole behind right field for his 138th major league home run, including 21 this year. Dozier has only homered the opposite way seven times in his career.
“I was just hoping that he didn’t try to pull a pitch that was un-pullable,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Kepler, who hit a two-run homer in the third, followed Dozier with a solo drive that brought Brewers manager Craig Counsell out of the dugout and Jeremy Jeffress in from the bullpen. Jeffress gave up a solo shot to Rosario in the fifth, but Garza’s damage was done.
“You could tell he got frustrated, kind of lazy with keeping the ball down,” Kepler said. “He left some up, and we took advantage.”
Dozier, Kepler and Rosario went a combined 9 for 13, with seven runs and 10 RBIs. The last time the Twins had multiple players hit multiple homers in one game was Aug. 3, 2011, when Delmon Young and Michael Cuddyer each went deep twice.
The Twins, who moved within 1 1/2 games out of the second AL wild card spot, had the second-fewest home runs in the league entering the game. They trailed the Brewers 4-2 and 4-1 in the fourth innings of the last two games after a 5-0 deficit against Texas in the second inning the day before.
“Just keep riding the wave,” Kepler said.
MEJIA EXITS EARLY
Twins starter Adalberto Mejia was pulled with one out in the fourth inning with pain in his upper left arm between the biceps and triceps, after allowing seven hits and three runs. He will be placed on the 10-day disabled list. Tyler Duffey (1-3) relieved with two innings for his first victory of the season, and Dillon Gee struck out five over four scoreless innings for his first career save. Molitor said he’ll consider Gee for Mejia’s spot in the rotation on Sunday.
BEEN A LONG TIME
Garza was drafted in the first round out of Fresno State with the 25th overall selection in 2005 by the Twins and made his major league debut just 14 months later. They sent him with shortstop Jason Bartlett to Tampa Bay in a six-player trade that made Young the headliner acquisition.
His ERA rose from 3.68 to 4.34.
“He’s been in a pretty good groove for a while now and done a very nice job and been very consistent with quality starts and giving us a chance to win,” Counsell said. “Tonight wasn’t his night.”
Joe Mauer’s single in the first inning pushed him past Tony Oliva into third place with 1,918 career hits for the Twins. Kirby Puckett (2,304) and Rod Carew (2,085) are ahead of him. Mauer also passed Puckett with 2,810 times on base, now trailing only Harmon Killebrew (3,072) in the club’s history in Minnesota since 1961.
Brewers: C Stephen Vogt, who’s been out for three weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee, has begun squatting but won’t be rushed back.
Twins: All-Star 3B Miguel Sano returned to the lineup, having missed three games after being hit by a pitch on the left hand. He struck out three times and grounded into a double play.
The Brewers and Twins will travel east to repeat their two-game interleague series in Milwaukee starting Wednesday, with a 20-year age gap between the scheduled pitchers. RHP Brandon Woodruff will take the mound for the Brewers after throwing 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his major league debut last week. Minnesota RHP Bartolo Colon, who’s 44, will make his 518th career start. He’s coming off his first victory for the Twins, a complete game.
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