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MIL@MIN: Kotsay belts a solo homer in the third

MINNEAPOLIS -- Zack Greinke has tried caring more and not caring so much. He's tried being more intense on the mound and more relaxed. He's tried attacking the strike zone and picking around it.

"I've tried just about everything," he said, "and it just hasn't worked for a while."

It wasn't working again Sunday, when the Twins countered the Brewers' furious comeback Saturday night with one of their own. They chipped away against Greinke, then pushed ahead against two Brewers relievers in a four-run seventh inning to win, 9-7, at sunny, sold-out Target Field.

Greinke and the Brewers squandered a five-run lead, and were left with their fourth consecutive road series loss. The Twins took two of three games in both teams' final Interleague Series this season.

"I feel like they took it away," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "I like what we did offensively, we didn't pitch well."

A fielding miscue hurt, too. Twins third baseman Danny Valencia cleared the bases with a go-ahead single that skipped away from left fielder Mark Kotsay in the decisive seventh inning, spoiling what would have been Kotsay's best game in a Brewers uniform. Filling in for the injured Ryan Braun, who was out with a strained left calf, Kotsay hammered a 442-foot home run in the fourth and followed with a two-run triple in the third. It was one of four consecutive run-scoring hits off Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn that spotted Greinke to a 6-1 lead.

It did not last long. Greinke retired the first two hitters in the bottom of the fourth before the Twins went walk, single, home run, cutting the deficit to 6-4 on left fielder Rene Tosoni's three-run homer.

"You always make [mistakes], but I've been making them too much in big situations," Greinke said. "Those are the times you need to get out of it and make good pitches. I seem to be making bad pitches in the most important times. I need to figure out how to stop doing that. It's upsetting."

He intended to bury a fastball inside against the left-handed-hitting Tosoni. Instead it was up and on the outside half of home plate, and ended up clanking off a railing atop the right-field wall.

"I don't know why I made a pitch that bad when there's two guys on base," Greinke said. "I don't get it."

The Brewers are still waiting for Greinke to consistently be the ace-type pitcher for whom they shipped four premium young players to Kansas City in December. There have been flashes, for sure, including Greinke's against the Rays three starts ago in which he struck out 10, did not walk any and allowed only one run and four hits in seven innings.

But sharp outings have been followed by frustrating ones, including each of his last two. After the Yankees touched him for seven runs in only two innings last week, Greinke was charged with five runs (four earned) in six innings on Sunday. He did strike out nine, but walked two and surrendered home runs to Tosoni and Jim Thome.

"I think we've seen outings from [Greinke] that he's really going to help us win," Roenicke said. "This wasn't one of them, the last one wasn't one of them, but the one before [against the Rays], absolutely. So he's still throwing a lot of good ballgames, we just need to get him in a stretch where he has a lot of them in a row."

Both teams tacked on a run -- the Brewers on a line-drive homer by All-Star second baseman Rickie Weeks that snapped his 0-for-21 skid -- before the seventh when the Twins turned a 7-5 deficit into a 9-7 lead against Zack Braddock and Kameron Loe (2-7).

Braddock recorded two outs, but allowed a walk and a hit before giving way to Loe, who surrendered an RBI single to Cuddyer. Loe then loaded the bases by walking Jim Thome, a bad matchup considering Thome is 6-for-8 lifetime against Loe with three extra-base hits.

Next up was Valencia, the Twins' RBI leader who has given the Brewers trouble in both of the teams' Interleague series. He improved to 9-for-25 in those games with a single to left field, where Kotsay anticipated a throw home.

Kotsay never got his chance. The baseball skipped past him while all three baserunners scored on the error. Cuddyer scored the go-ahead run from second base, and 40-year-old Thome made it all the way home from first.

"It was hit hard, and I was going to be aggressive and throw Cuddyer out at the plate," Kotsay said. "I played it into an in-between hop. At that point, I was just trying to block the ball, and whether it took a hop to the left, it got on me. It's never a good feeling when the home-plate fans know your number."

That's because Kotsay had exposed his No. 25 when he turned to chase the baseball to the warning track.

"It was unfortunate," Kotsay said. "If I had come up with the ball, I thought we would have had a play at the plate with Cuddyer."

It was a bitter end to what was looking like a big weekend for Kotsay, the bench bat who snapped an 0-for-19 slide Saturday night. Before Sunday, he had no home runs and nine RBIs in 134 at-bats this season.

Milwaukee had one last chance in the ninth inning, when the club knocked Minnesota closer Matt Capps out of the game for the second straight day. But with the tying run on base, left-hander Glen Perkins struck out Prince Fielder and pinch-hitter Casey McGehee for a save.

The slumping McGehee, who did not start Saturday or Sunday, snapped his bat over his right knee after swinging through strike three.

"He's trying so hard to help this team, and he keeps getting frustrated," Roenicke said. Comments