Martin Maldonado’s two-run, tiebreaking home run in the ninth inning off Matt Capps pushed the Milwaukee Brewers past the Minnesota Twins 5-3 on Friday night, and John Axford bounced back from consecutive blown saves to preserve the lead.
Corey Hart led off the ninth against Capps (1-4) with a double. With two outs and two strikes, Maldonado sent a fastball into the bullpen. Then Axford pitched a 1-2-3 inning for his 11th save.
Despite Axford’s blown save chances in each of the last two games at Kansas City that spiked his ERA to 5.55, manager Ron Roenicke said the right-hander is still in his usual role and that he’s confident Axford has the right personality to handle struggles.
Ryan Braun ended Francisco Liriano’s no-hit bid with a one-out, three-run homer in the sixth inning on the left-hander’s 97th pitch after a pair of walks. Trevor Plouffe tied the game at 3 off Yovani Gallardo in the bottom of the frame with his second home run of the night, his seventh in seven games and 14th of the season.
Kameron Loe (3-2) picked up the victory with 1Xc scoreless innings.
Liriano struck out six in six innings, walking four, hitting one batter and allowing just the one hit. He was sharp from the start, striking out the side in the second and recording six groundball outs over the first five innings.
He had help on defense, including a slow roller that second baseman Alexi Casilla scooped and in the same motion made an off-balance sidearm throw on target to beat Norichika Aoki by a step in the third.
Struggling second baseman Rickie Weeks, put in the designated hitter spot by Roenicke to try to find a spark for the eighth-year veteran, hit a bouncer to shortstop to begin the fifth inning, but Brian Dozier grabbed the ball deep in the hole and crow-hopped a throw on line to first for the out. Two batters later, Martin Maldanado smashed a line drive to third base, but that sailed straight into Plouffe’s glove.
(KFGO file photo)