MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Milwaukee Brewers and their superb pitching staff are cruising toward the playoffs, but the more powerful performances they can produce at the plate, the better off they’ll be.
Sunday’s slugging outburst was perfect timing for Milwaukee’s upcoming trip to San Francisco, a potential postseason preview.
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Rowdy Tellez hit a three-run home run, Aaron Ashby recorded his first major league win, and the Brewers muscled their way out of a three-game losing streak with a 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
“We can hit. It’s not just a coincidence these things show up,” Tellez said. “That’s what we have to continue to do throughout the rest of the season into the playoffs. When pitchers make mistakes, we’ve got to capitalize.”
Luis Urías also homered and Kolten Wong hit a two-run double for the Brewers, whose first seven hits went for extra bases to keep the many Milwaukee fans among the crowd of 26,186 cheering consistently. Christian Yelich, who went 2 for 4 with a walk, had Milwaukee’s first single in the seventh inning.
“It’s hard to argue with a series win against a decisively first-place team that we just played,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
The Brewers raised their major league-best road record to 43-23 while ending their only losing streak longer than two games since the All-Star break. The NL Central leaders, who stretched their advantage over second-place Cincinnati to 8 1/2 games, have had only two losing streaks longer than three games all season. They’re in control of the No. 2 seed, 5 1/2 games behind the league-leading Giants.
“This is going to be a big series for us. It’s going to test us. We’re going to test them. It’s not like they’re the almighty,” Tellez said. “We played good against them at home. We had some tough breaks. I think we can take a series.”
The Brewers, who are in the middle of the pack at best in the majors in most hitting categories, scored five runs during their three-game losing streak. They were more than ready for Twins rookie Griffin Jax (3-3), who gave up six hits and all six runs over five innings. Tellez went deep with two outs in the third, his first homer in 13 games after entering in a 6-for-37 slump.
Ashby (1-0) allowed three hits in five innings, including a two-run homer by Miguel Sanó. The nephew of former major league pitcher Andy Ashby had his sinker in sharp form in the longest appearance of his brief career. Ashby gave up seven runs in the first inning of his debut on June 30.
“It’s something you always dream of as a little kid,” Ashby said, reflecting on his milestone win. “It’s a special day, and I’m glad we got it for the team. It’s awesome.”
The rookie was holding a place in the rotation for the injured Freddy Peralta.
“I think we’re going to find a spot for him to pitch. It doesn’t matter where it is,” manager Craig Counsell said.
Ashby left his lead in the capable hands of the Brewers bullpen, which logged nine strikeouts in four scoreless innings. Devin Williams struck out the side in a perfect eighth, and Josh Hader did the same with one hit allowed in the ninth.
Williams has 30 strikeouts and one unearned run in his last 20 innings, a sparkling stretch of 21 appearances since June 23. Hader pitched a shutout in nine August outings, with just two hits and two walks surrendered.
Sanó hit his 23rd homer into the second deck above left field. He and has reached base in 26 of his last 28 games, with 26 RBIs and a .971 OPS during that span.
“The swing can get longer and shorter depending on what’s going on. It’s in a very good, short place right now,” Baldelli said.
Brewers: CF Lorenzo Cain and RF Avisaíl García were on the bench to rest.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton went 0 for 11 with a walk and six strikeouts in the series, playing all three games after returning from a broken left pinky finger. Buxton made a leaping catch in the gap to take a likely extra-base hit away from Jackie Bradley Jr. with a runner on first.
Brewers: All-Star RHP Corbin Burnes (8-4, 2.30 ERA) starts on Monday night as the Brewers visit San Francisco. RHP Johnny Cueto (7-6, 3.73) takes the mound for the Giants.
Twins: RHP Bailey Ober (1-2, 4.06) pitches on Monday night in a makeup of an earlier rainout in Detroit, before the team returns to Minnesota for another home series.
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