MILWAUKEE -- The Twins are back over .500 after steamrolling the slumping Brewers in four straight games.
Joe Mauer and Byron Buxton collected three hits apiece in the Twins' 7-2 win on Thursday at Miller Park, as Minnesota singled Milwaukee into submission for a sweep of consecutive two-game Interleague series between the old American League rivals.
With five straight victories, the Twins are within a half-game of the Mariners and Rays for the second AL Wild Card. Minnesota is also 3 1/2 games behind the AL Central-leading Indians.
"These guys are enjoying a little bit of an underdog role here," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We've been able to put together a little bit of a run."
The Brewers have lost five in a row and 17 of 26 since the All-Star break, and after entering the night in a virtual tie for second place in the National League Central with the Cardinals, they fell into sole possession of third for the first time since May 12. Milwaukee dropped two games behind the division-leading Cubs and one game behind St. Louis.
"Offensively, it's just not enough," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, whose club is in a prolonged slump. "We have to step up here."
Twins left-hander Dietrich Enns lasted only 2 1/3 innings in his Major League debut, despite being spotted a 3-0 lead in the second inning and a 6-1 lead in the third by an offense that tallied 12 hits -- 11 singles -- mostly against Brewers starter Zach Davies. Davies had surrendered only three earned runs over 28 2/3 innings in his previous four starts, but he was charged with seven runs (six earned) on a career-high 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Keon Broxton homered for the Brewers, who were outscored by the Twins over the four games by a 27-10 margin, including 11-2 in the two games at Miller Park.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Polanco pours it on: Switch-hitting Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco had a .570 OPS entering August and was at .581 entering the home-and-home series against the Brewers. He made the most of those four games, going 10-for-15 and reaching safely in 11 of 17 plate appearances, including singles in his first two plate appearances on Thursday. Polanco's RBI single off Davies in the second inning plated the second of Minnesota's three runs in the frame.
"He's getting affirmation for the work that he put in when he was not playing," Molitor said. "His at-bats have been significantly improved, even when they are resulting in outs." More >
All's well that Enns well: The Brewers had the makings of a big inning in the third when Jesus Aguilar worked an eight-pitch walk from Enns with the bases loaded and one out, cutting Milwaukee's deficit to 6-2. Molitor had seen enough of Enns, lifting the rookie after 53 pitches in favor of reliever Alan Busenitz, whose second pitch induced a sharp grounder to third base from Brewers catcher Manny Pina. Sano made a backhanded pick, stepped on third and threw to first for an inning-ending double play.
"We didn't get it done," Counsell said. "You can say he hit it hard, and sometimes, that's part of it, but we can't use that as an excuse for 25 games. Often you can say you were a hit away, but sometimes, you just have to get that hit. That's the bottom line."
Enns, one of the prospects acquired by the Twins from the Yankees for Jaime Garcia, settled for a no-decision in his debut.
"I thought given the circumstances, coming over to a new team, getting promoted, [pitching] close to home with a lot of family [in attendance], he did OK," Molitor said. "He threw it over and used all his pitches. It just kind of got away from him a little bit there. It was just a situation where I felt I needed to make a move there and minimize the damage and protect the lead we had built over the first couple of innings."
"I couldn't help but laugh and smile. I'm just out here trying to have fun. It was the last thing on my mind. When I got called up, I didn't even realize I was going to have to hit until a couple of hours later and I was like, 'Oh, man.' It is exciting to get that one out of the way. Hopefully my swing can improve from here on out. -- Enns, on collecting his first Major League hit
"You can see some guys carrying a lot more weight than others and taking losses harder than they have in the past, and that's about it. Just let them know we have 162 of these [games]. We're not done yet, so let's just keep going." -- Brewers veteran Matt Garza, on why he spoke up in a players-only meeting after the game
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: After having his turn in the rotation bumped back a day, Kyle Gibson will start Minnesota's series opener in Detroit on Friday at 6:10 p.m. CT. The right-hander will be making his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Aug. 4. He allowed three runs over 7 1/3 innings against the Tigers on July 22. This will be Gibson's fourth start of the season against Detroit.
Brewers: The Brewers will continue their seven-game homestand with a three-game set against the Reds this weekend. Right-hander Jimmy Nelson will look to build on his team-leading 14 quality starts when he takes the mound at 7:10 p.m. CT on Friday. Nelson is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA against Cincinnati this season, allowing three earned runs on eight hits over 14 innings with 16 strikeouts.