Brewers, Twins continue border rivalry (Aug 08, 2017)

MINNEAPOLIS -- Late in the Monday game at Minnesota, a "Let's Go Brewers" chant grew louder and louder.

The Twins wound up winning the game in unlikely fashion, but the 31,339 fans in attendance proved there is a little to the border rivalry between interleague foes.

The series continues Tuesday in Minnesota before shifting to Milwaukee for the final two games.

Milwaukee flinched first -- in the form of a balk for Minnesota's decisive run in a 5-4 game -- and the Brewers fell to 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the National League Central.

The Twins climbed within to 2 1/2 games of the second American League wild-card position. Minnesota is 5 1/2 games back of the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians.

"Good atmosphere in the ballpark with the Brewers fans traveling," said Minnesota manager Paul Molitor, a former Milwaukee star. "It was just one of those games where we had to stick with it. We had to mix and match a little bit through the latter stages, but everyone did their job and we were able to take the first game of the four-game set."

The familiarity of the interleague competition between the two teams will increase on Tuesday with Matt Garza (5-5, 3.68 ERA) starting for the Brewers. Garza, who spent his first two major league seasons with the Twins, pitched plenty of times in Minnesota's old Metrodome. Tuesday will be his second career start at the outdoor Target Field.

Garza is 2-2 with a 2.43 ERA in five career starts against the Twins. He pitched seven innings in a win at Target Field on June 6, 2015, giving up one run.

The 33-year-old right-hander is coming off a 2-1 win against the St. Louis Cardinals in his last outing. when he gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings on Thursday. Garza will try to get the Brewers' rotation back on track after Brent Suter lasted just four innings on Monday.

Milwaukee starters had gone 5-2 with a 1.95 ERA over the previous nine games, which included Garza's effort against St. Louis.

"Our job is to keep the runs off the board," Garza said. "When we do give them up, we hope our offense picks us up. We're in a bit of an offensive rut right now, but that's OK. Our starters have been doing our job, our bullpen is shortening things up."

The Brewers scored a total of six runs in a three-game series at Tampa Bay before heading to Minnesota, and they haven't scored more than four since July 26. Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell wasn't ready to proclaim the bats out of their slump following the four-run outing Monday.

The Twins committed three errors in the game, including two during the Brewers' three-run third inning.

"I don't think we put together a big offensive night, necessarily," Counsell said. "We got some breaks to score those runs. It's a two-out error that gets us three unearned runs. But it was nice to take advantage of it, certainly. We swung the bats pretty good tonight. We hit a lot of balls hard to the outfield, I thought, and not much to show for it."

Milwaukee will try for more against Minnesota left-hander Adalberto Mejia (4-5, 4.30 ERA). Mejia gave up four runs on seven hits in his last start, lasting just four innings in a 4-1 loss to the Texas Rangers on Thursday. He yielded two homers in the first inning.

"He settled in and did a nice job of minimizing there in the first inning with the strikeouts," Molitor said of Mejia. "He kind of kicked it into gear there for a couple innings, but the pitch count was climbing, and when he had a chance to finish guys there to keep the game tied, he couldn't make that last pitch."

Mejia, who has never faced Milwaukee, said he had trouble with the unusually cool weather to begin the Thursday game.

"The first inning I couldn't get a grip on the ball," Mejia said through an interpreter of a night when the game-time temperature was 56 degrees. "I think the weather, it was too cold for me and I couldn't grip the ball. My hand was kind of numb. But after that, I was able to get a grip on the ball and things went better. But at the beginning, my hand was a little numb."

The Twins and Brewers have one more game outside, in what should be nice weather, before heading to Milwaukee's retractable-roof facility.