Brewers' five-run ninth all for naught
Bullpen can't hold lead as Crew falls in 12th inning
MINNEAPOLIS -- For once, the Brewers were the ones that rallied from four down to take the lead in the ninth. That lead lasted all of four batters in the bottom half of the inning.
The Brewers batted around in the ninth and tagged a pair of Twins relievers, including closer Jon Rauch, for five runs on five hits to carry a one-run lead with three outs to go.
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But it just wasn't enough. The Twins tied it up in the bottom of the frame to send it to extra innings and added another run in the 12th inning to hand the Brewers a tough loss on Saturday, 8-7, at Target Field.
"We just can't seem to get over the hump," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "This thing's going to turn sooner or later."
And it could have been even worse. Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo opened the game up much the same way Dave Bush did on Friday night, surrendering four runs with two outs and two runners on in the first inning.
Gallardo got out of the inning, however, retiring eight of the next nine batters he faced. But the Brewers' offense struggled early as just three runners reached base through the first four innings.
They didn't get a lot of help from the Twins' defense, either.
Minnesota turned a double play in four of the last six innings, including three that ended the inning. Making it even more impressive was the fact that not one of the four double plays came easily for the Twins.
"They made some big plays that maybe at the time didn't seem like they were that big but turned out to be huge," said Milwaukee third baseman Casey McGehee, who drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth. "It's kind of what they do -- it's Twins baseball. You know they're going to pitch, you know they're going to play defense, they're going to run the bases well and when they throw some hitting in there, they're pretty darn good."
The first double play came with two on and one out in the seventh, on a hard hit ground ball by Carlos Gomez to third. Twins third baseman Nick Punto stepped on the bag at third and fired to first to retire Gomez and end the inning.
In the ninth, the Brewers finally strung together a few hits, as the first five batters reached base in the inning. Ryan Braun ripped a low liner to the opposite field. Alexi Casilla -- who entered the game in the eighth for an injured Orlando Hudson -- snagged Braun's line drive and caught Gomez too far off first to record the first two outs of the inning.
With the Brewers trailing, 6-5, at the time, a single from Braun could have made an already big inning even bigger for the Brewers.
"Brauny comes up and absolutely tattoos one there [but] can't get it through the hole," Macha said. "It's just the way things are going right now."
After getting a runner on with one out in each of the next two innings, the Brewers grounded to first baseman Justin Morneau, who started and ended both double plays.
But the Brewers still had a chance. Despite yet another early deficit, they continued to battle into the 12th. Unfortunately, the bullpen couldn't hold on long enough, something that has become all too familiar for the Brewers this month.
Reliever Marco Estrada was tagged for two runs in the seventh, which came just after the rally-killing double play in the top of the inning. In the ninth, Carlos Villanueva -- who has assumed the closer's role in Trevor Hoffman's absence -- allowed the Twins to tie it up at 7 before escaping.
Finally, in the 12th, lefty Manny Parra -- who was originally scheduled to start Sunday's series finale -- was the reliever who took the loss. Parra (0-3) entered in the 11th with the Brewers out of options in the bullpen and promptly shut down the Twins in order.
His final inning, however, was a different story.
Parra sandwiched two walks around a Joe Mauer single, loading the bases with none out in the inning. After getting Michael Cuddyer to ground into a fielder's choice, Parra allowed the winning run to score on a sacrifice fly to right field by designated hitter Jason Kubel.
"I put myself in that situation walking two guys," Parra said. "That's brutal. You just can't walk two guys. I mean, I gave them [the game]."
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.