MINNEAPOLIS — Matt Garza lowered his earned run average in five consecutive starts prior to taking the mound at Target Field on Tuesday night.

When the carnage was over, the veteran right-hander’s ERA had ballooned by more than half a point and the Milwaukee Brewers were saddled with their third consecutive defeat.

Brian Dozier hit his first career grand slam and Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario each homered twice, powering the Minnesota Twins to an 11-4 trouncing of the Brewers.

Garza (5-6) turned in his shortest and worst start of the season with eight hits and eight runs allowed in 3ª innings for the Brewers, who fell to 4-11 in their past 15 road games. They remained 1½ games behind the Cubs in the NL Central after Chicago lost 6-3 to the San Francisco Giants.

“It just wasn’t a good night for Matt,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He’s been in a pretty good groove for a while and been very consistent with quality starts and giving us a chance to win. Tonight wasn’t his night.”

Garza took a 4-2 lead into the fourth inning, when Rosario went deep with one out.

It was then, Counsell said, when things unraveled quickly for Garza.

“He’s still got a 4-3 lead after the Rosario home run and a chance to keep the game together,” Counsell said. “The walks to (Jason) Castro and (Jorge) Polanco is the puzzling thing to me. It just felt like he lost a little bit of feeling for the strike zone starting with the (Nos.) 8 and 9 hitters. It happened fast.”

With the bases loaded following a single and the two walks, 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.

“That’s probably the most excited I’ve been,” Dozier said. “Not because of the grand slam by any means, but just the fact that the crowd was into it, and we were taking the lead against a very good team. With where we’re at and in that type of year, everything kind of picks up. I was excited.”

Kepler, who hit a two-run home run in the third, followed Dozier with a solo drive that brought Counsell out of the dugout and Jeremy Jeffress in from the bullpen. Jeffress gave up a solo shot to Rosario.

Garza’s ERA rose from 3.68 to 4.34.

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.

“It doesn’t feel good losing the last three, but we still have an opportunity in front of us,” Counsell said.

The Twins, who began the night 2½ games out of the second AL wild card spot, had the second-fewest home runs in the league entering the game.

Twins starter Adalberto Mejia was pulled with one out in the fourth inning with pain in his upper left arm, after allowing seven hits and three runs.

“It started bothering me in the second inning,” Mejia said through a translator. “I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal going into the third, but obviously it was something that bothered me.”

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.

Chart climbing

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.

From the infirmary

Brewers catcher 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.

“That’s a hard job and that’s a lot to put on your knee,” Counsell said, “so we’ve got to be careful.”

• Twins All-Star third baseman Miguel Sano returned to the lineup, having missed three games after being hit by a pitch on the left hand. He wore a protective pad.

Up next

The Brewers and Twins will travel east to repeat their two-game interleague series in Milwaukee starting Wednesday night, with a 20-year age gap between the scheduled pitchers.

Right-hander Brandon Woodruff will take the mound for the Brewers after throwing 6ª scoreless innings in his major league debut last week.

Minnesota right-hander Bartolo Colon, who is 44 years old, will make his 518th career start. He’s coming off his first victory for the Twins, a complete game nine-hitter against the Texas Rangers.

“They are on opposite ends of the spectrum, for sure,” Counsell said. “Brandon gets to hit for the first time, so that will be fun for him. We have faced Bartolo in a different uniform this year. He’s always a unique matchup. He’s one of a kind.”

Milwaukee scored six runs on 10 hits over five innings against Colon in a 10-8 victory over the Atlanta Braves on April 28 at Miller Park.


Milwaukee AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Santana rf 5 1 3 1 0 2 .280

Braun dh 5 0 3 0 0 1 .281

Shaw 3b 5 0 1 0 0 1 .290

Aguilar 1b 4 0 0 0 1 2 .268

Perez lf 4 0 0 0 0 1 .265

Pina c 4 2 2 0 0 1 .293

Arcia ss 4 1 3 0 0 1 .284

Broxton cf 4 0 1 1 0 2 .223

Villar 2b 4 0 0 1 0 0 .213

Totals 39 4 13 3 1 11

Minnesota AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Dozier 2b 5 2 3 5 0 1 .249

Adrianza 2b 0 0 0 0 0 0 .277

Kepler rf 4 2 3 3 1 0 .251

Sano 3b 5 0 1 0 0 3 .269

Mauer 1b 4 0 1 0 1 0 .272

Grossman dh 4 0 0 0 0 1 .245

Rosario lf 4 3 3 2 0 0 .289

Buxton cf 4 1 1 0 0 0 .221

Castro c 2 2 0 0 2 0 .226

Polanco ss 3 1 2 1 1 0 .232

Totals 35 11 14 11 5 5

Milwaukee 010 300 000 — 4 13 1

Minnesota 002 620 10x — 11 14 1

E — Villar (12), Polanco (13). LOB — Milwaukee 9, Minnesota 5. 2B — Santana (21), Braun (17), Pina (18). 3B — Braun (1), Polanco (2). HR — Kepler (12), off Garza; Rosario (13), off Garza; Dozier (21), off Garza; Kepler (13), off Garza; Rosario (14), off Jeffress. RBIs — Santana (59), Broxton (40), Villar (33), Dozier 5 (61), Kepler 3 (45), Rosario 2 (40), Polanco (35).

SB — Mauer (2), Buxton (19).

DP — Milwaukee 2; Minnesota.

Milwaukee IP H R ER BB SO ERA

Garza, L, 5-6 31/3 8 8 8 2 3 4.34

Jeffress 12/3 2 2 2 3 1 5.40

Torres 1 1 0 0 0 0 4.13

Hughes 2 3 1 1 0 1 3.77

Minnesota IP H R ER BB SO ERA

Mejia 3 7 3 3 1 3 4.47

Duffey, W,1/3 2 2 1 0 0 3 4.33

Gee, S, 1-1 4 4 0 0 0 5 2.70

Mejia pitched to 2 batters in the 4th.

Jeffress pitched to 1 batter in the 6th.

Inherited runners-scored — Torres 1-0. WP — Mejia, Jeffress.

T — 3:30. Att. — 34,185.

Angry
0
Sad
0
Funny
0
Wow
0
Love
0