Returning ace Yovani Gallardo tries to continue a recent burst of success tonight when the Milwaukee Brewers visit Target Field for the first of three interleague games with the host Minnesota Twins.
A 17-game winner en route to the playoffs last season, Gallardo opened this season with just one win in his first six starts while posting a bloated 5.79 earned run average.
He's won four of six decisions across seven starts since, including a 6-5 victory against San Diego on June 10 that got him back to .500 on the season. In that win, the 26-year-old gave up an earned run on five hits in seven innings, lowering the ERA to 4.21 through 77 innings.
Gallardo pitched six innings against the Twins in a no-decision on May 19 - won by Minnesota, 5-4 - and is 2-1 against them in five career starts.
He'll be opposed by Dominican lefty Francisco Liriano, who's won just once in 14 appearances in 2012.
The 28-year-old was 0-5 while splitting time between starting and relieving in his initial 11 outings, then broke through for a 4-0 win against Oakland in a six-inning start on May 30.
In that game, Liriano allowed three hits, walked two and struck out nine.
He's 0-2 in two efforts since, allowing eight hits and five runs in 11 2/3 innings against Kansas City and the Chicago Cubs.
Liriano pitched one inning of relief against Milwaukee in the Twins' 11-3 win on May 18 and is 4-2 against the Brewers in seven career meetings.
On Thursday in Kansas City, the Royals came from behind in the ninth inning for the second straight night, beating the Brewers 4-3 to complete a three- game sweep.
Brayan Pena stroked a pinch-hit single in the ninth off of John Axford (1-3) to score two runs and win the game. Axford suffered the loss after blowing his second save in as many nights. He gave up two runs on one hit and a walk.
Starter Shaun Marcum scattered four hits and two walks across a season-best 7 2/3 innings en route to a no-decision.
Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez hit home runs for the Brewers, who have lost four of five.
In Minnesota, Jim Thome smacked his interleague-leading 62nd homer, a towering three-run shot in the top of the third inning, while Joe Blanton twirled his second complete game this season as Philadelphia downed the Twins, 6-1, in the rubber match of a three-game set.
Scott Diamond (5-2) was charged with four runs on five hits and two walks in six innings for Minnesota, which has dropped three of its last four.
Minnesota took two of three from the Brewers earlier in the season.