Slowey and surely, Twins beat Brewers

Slowey and surely, Twins win

MILWAUKEE -- Since the Twins left for their current 10-game road trip just a week ago, they had been looking for the kind of victory that they produced on Friday night against the Brewers.

The one where things fall into place for them early -- and it stays that way.

After suffering through five blowout losses in their first six games of the trip and enduring a near collapse in their lone victory, the Twins finally were able to tack off a relatively easy 10-2 victory at Miller Park.

"It's nice to be on the right side of that game for a change," Justin Morneau said.

The feeling over the early part of the road trip had been frustration. It seemed as if it wasn't one thing, it was another that was keeping the team from stringing together victories.

But on Friday night, the Twins delivered solid pitching, strong hitting and, well, even their pitcher hitting.

Coming off his worst start of the season in Chicago, in which he allowed eight earned runs over just three innings, Kevin Slowey produced one of his best outings this year.

While the White Sox were on fire during that series, Slowey's challenge didn't appear much easier against a Brewers team that had gone 12-4 in its last 16 games.

But Slowey found a way to shut down Milwaukee's bats early. He pitched eight innings, allowing just two runs on five hits. He was most dominant early in the game, retiring 12 of the first 13 batters he faced and scattering just two hits through six.

"A good performance against a very good offensive team here in a ballpark where the ball flies," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "These guys can swing it. He kept the ball in the ballpark against a team that hits a lot of home runs. And that's what it's all about, locating the ball and moving it in and out. He did that very well tonight."

But Slowey didn't settle for just being productive on the mound.

The right-hander showed a bit of handiwork at the plate as well, recording his first career hit in the sixth on a double to deep left field off Brewers starter Dave Bush.

That wasn't Slowey's only contribution with the bat. With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, Brewers right-hander Tim Dillard intentionally walked Mike Lamb to get to Slowey. On a 3-2 count, Slowey singled through the shortstop hole, scoring two runs for his first career RBIs and giving the Twins a 6-0 lead.

"That was pretty impressive," Morneau said of the hits. "I hate it when those guys do it, it makes us look bad. But we'll take it."

After the game, the balls from both hits sat on the top shelf of Slowey's locker, presents that he said would go to his dad for safe keeping.

"It's neat to get a chance to hit because growing up, I think you always envision yourself as a hitter in the Major Leagues," Slowey said. "So when you finally get a chance to get hits, on the off chance you make contact with the ball, it's good."

Slowey got quite a bit of offensive help as well.

It all started with the top of the Twins' order. Carlos Gomez and Alexi Casilla combined to go 4-for-9 with three runs scored and two critical bunts in the fifth, sparking a five-run inning that included a two-run triple to deep center field by Morneau.

Morneau's three RBIs on the night brought him to 50 on the season, and he credits the the new-look top of the lineup for allowing him to reach the milestone this early.

"Since Casilla has come up, I've had a lot of opportunities with the two fast guys at the top of the order," Morneau said. "Perfect example was in the fifth when he bunts and the next guy bunts, and we've got nobody out with No. 3, 4, 5 coming up ... That's why it's big for our pitchers to keep us in the game so those guys can bunt. You can't bunt when down 8-0, and [that] takes away from their game."

Besides getting back to small ball, the Twins also took advantage of Brewers mistakes. Casilla reached on an error by second baseman Bill Hall in the first inning and would score Minnesota's first run. A second fielding error by Hall in the seventh would spur on the five-run inning, which included Slowey's two-run single and a Casilla's three-run double to right field.

The Twins even showed a bit of power, as Jason Kubel tallied his ninth home run of the season off right-hander Mark DiFelice.

"We talked about picking up the pace and getting after it a little more," Gardenhire said of his team's offensive plan. "When you are getting down by six or seven runs early, it's hard to determine how motivated you are. When you get a lead and stay in the ballgame early, it's easy to stay a little more motivated ... Tonight there was a lot of enthusiasm."

Even Michael Cuddyer, who left the game in the second inning with a bruised right hand, could find only one thing at fault with it.

"To be able to get the offensive output, the good things like the bunts, Slowey the way he pitched -- the way he hit -- it seemed like everything went well for us," Cuddyer said. "It was a very good game -- I just wish I could have been a part of it a little more."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.