MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jason Kubel's sacrifice fly in the 12th inning lifted the Minnesota Twins to an 8-7 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.
Jesse Crain (1-0) picked up the victory for the Twins despite issuing a five-pitch walk to Prince Fielder — his fourth of the game — to start the 12th. Crain got the next two guys and struck out Jody Gerut looking to end the inning.
Manny Parra (0-3) issued a leadoff walk to Alexi Casilla. Joe Mauer followed with a single and AL batting leader Justin Morneau walked to load the bases.
One out later, Kubel sent a fly to right fielder Corey Hart, whose throw was off line and not close while Mauer streaked home for the win to raise Minnesota's home record to 14-6 in front of the largest crowd — 39,152 — in the new ballpark.
With struggling closer Trevor Hoffman on hiatus while he works on his mechanics, Carlos Villanueva gave the lead back in the bottom of the ninth after the Brewers suddenly snapped to life with five runs in the top of the inning to go ahead 7-6. Hoffman's unavailability also forced manager Ken Macha to summon Sunday's scheduled starter Parra for the 11th.
As if Brewers fans needed more proof of their team's pitching woes, Macha is currently carrying a 13-man staff — and he still had to go to the next day's starter.
Villaneuva, who picked up the save on Thursday, the Brewers' only win in the last 12 games, needed 44 pitches to get through two innings — but escaped the 9th and 10th by leaving the bases loaded both times. The Twins stranded a runner on third base five times in the first 10 innings.
Hart was a huge help in the 10th, perfectly positioned to catch Morneau's drive to the warning track with one out and one on. Then with the bases loaded, Delmon Young — who drove in three runs — hit a ball that carried to the wall where Hart hauled it in with a fluid leap.
Hart also caught Denard Span's fly to the warning track with the bases full in the ninth to end that inning.
After a four-run first inning against Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo, the Twins were in line for another win in this recently lopsided interstate series with a 6-2 lead after eight.
Instead of using Jon Rauch to start the inning in a non-save situation, manager Ron Gardenhire called for left-hander Ron Mahay with two lefties due up. Two singles and a walk later, the "Let's go Brewers!" chants came calling out from the Wisconsinites and transplants in the crowd and Rauch came in for a bases-loaded, none-out predicament.
Rickie Weeks hit a two-run double, and Carlos Gomez tied it with his sharp single down the left-field line — giving him a real reason to celebrate this time.
After showboating on his meaningless homer on Friday night, accidentally hitting Mauer when he flipped his bat, Gomez hustled to first and clapped a few times to mark the moment against his former team.
That was Rauch's second blown save in 12 attempts.
Second baseman Casilla, who came in after a bruised right elbow forced Orlando Hudson out, saved Rauch from more damage with a diving catch of Ryan Braun's line drive to get Gomez at first for the double play.
But Casey McGehee drilled a double off the wall after a walk to Fielder. Left fielder Young took an awkward turn to let the ball ricochet past him and the not-so-fast Fielder to hustle home and slide in for the go-ahead run.
Morneau's RBI single off Yovani Gallardo set the stage for another big first inning for the Twins, who scored seven runs in the opening frame on Friday and four more in this game to extend their majors-most total of first-inning runs to 41.
NOTES: Injured Twins closer Joe Nathan got good news in his latest elbow checkup, and manager Ron Gardenhire said his rehab schedule is right on track. Nathan's goal is to be ready by the start of spring training. ... Brewers 3B Mat Gamel, who was placed on the disabled list with a muscle tear in his right shoulder near the end of spring training, has begun his rehab assignment with the Class A club in the Florida State League, Brevard County.
(This version CORRECTS Twins 8, Brewers 7, 12 innings. SUBS graf 2 to correct inning from 11th to 12th.)