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Pavano struggles as Twins are swept by Brewers

June 26, 2011

MILWAUKEE — A six-game National League roadtrip finally ended on Sunday for the Twins, but not before their fifth straight loss, a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Brewers at Miller Park.

It was Minnesota’s seventh consecutive loss to Milwaukee, finalizing the Brewers’ second straight sweep of the Twins.

“I hear they’ve struggled a little bit offensively, but we don’t see it,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We see some pretty good hitters all the way up and down that lineup, to tell you the truth. Right now, I wish we struggled like they were struggling.”

In the first inning of the trip, the Twins’ offense looked pretty good, as it scored eight runs on nine hits on the way to its eighth straight victory. In the ensuing 53 innings, the Twins were outscored, 30-9.

Minnesota now sits nine games behind first-place Detroit.

“For us right now, because of the injuries, everything’s got to be going on all cylinders,” said Michael Cuddyer. “Our hitters have to pick up our pitchers, and our pitchers have to pick up the hitters. That’s the way that we went on our streak, and that’s the way we’re going to have to win. That’s it.”

Right-hander Carl Pavano got the win in a 9-2 victory over the Giants on Tuesday, but he couldn’t end the Twins’ losing skid on Sunday. After four scoreless innings, Pavano gave up five runs, including a two-run home run to Ryan Braun in the fifth and RBI doubles in the sixth by Jonathan Lucroy and Brewers starter Chris Narveson.

It all started with a triple to left field by Lucroy that could have been a double, if Jason Repko had fielded it cleanly. Pavano retired the next two batters, but Nyjer Morgan followed with an RBI single before Braun crushed an 0-1 pitch to right-center.

“He can really hit the ball, we’ve all known that for a long time,” Gardenhire said. “He covered that fastball pretty good. I think it was up just a little bit, but man, he hit the heck out of that ball.”

Pavano finished with five runs allowed on eight hits over six innings, with five strikeouts and one walk. He took his sixth loss of the season, despite recording his 1,000th career strikeout in the fifth inning.

“That’s a tough loss,” Pavano said. “My job today was to go out there and end this losing streak, and I wasn’t able to do that.”

Jim Thome, who pinch-hit in the seventh, reached a milestone of his own by recording his 1,637th RBI, putting him ahead of Ernie Banks for 28th on the all-time list.

In addition to helping his own cause at the plate, Narveson was impressive on the mound, giving up just two runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings, with seven strikeouts against two walks. Narveson improved to 5-5 on the season with a 4.42 ERA.

Not only did the Twins lose five of six games on the roadtrip, they also added two more injuries to the long list they had already compiled this season. The Twins have now used the disabled list 16 times this season for 13 players.

“It’s tough to go out there and win and even compete when you’re missing some of your best players,” Braun said. “I think when they get everybody back healthy, obviously, they’re a much better team.”

Of the nine hitters in the Opening Day lineup for the Twins, only three — Alexi Casilla, Danny Valencia and Cuddyer — have avoided stints on the DL. Through 76 games this season, the Twins have used 39 players, including four catchers, four shortstops, five second basemen, six left fielders, five right fielders and 11 designated hitters.

But that doesn’t mean anyone is going to take it easy on the injury-plagued Twins.

“I don’t really care,” Brewers slugger Prince Fielder said. “That’s the team that’s out there, so you have to try to beat them.”

Gardenhire has also used 70 different batting orders and 66 different defensive lineups in 76 games. The most common of each has only been used three times.

When the Twins won 15 of 17 games earlier this month, they executed well, and it didn’t seem to matter who they put on the field. On this trip, they looked more like the Twins ballclub that was 20 games under .500 and 16 1/2 games back at the beginning of June.

Especially in Milwaukee, sloppy defense and mistakes cost the Twins. In their five straight losses, the Twins have committed seven errors, which allowed four unearned runs to score.

“It looked like we were chasing a mouse around out there,” Gardenhire said. “I hate sloppy baseball. … Those are plays you just have to make. And it just shows right up on the scoreboard when you don’t make ‘em; all these runs start going up.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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