MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke emphasized the positive after a grueling game.
Denard Span had an RBI single in the 15th inning, lifting the Minnesota Twins to a 5-4 victory over the Brewers on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.
Despite the loss, Roenicke had plenty to be pleased about.
``I like the fact that we had a lot of baserunners, we had a lot of chances,' Roenicke said. ``I like the fact our pitching is still throwing the ball great. Our bullpen was really good today.'
That hasn't been the case for much of this season for the Brewers, who won the National League Central a year ago. Entering Sunday, only three NL teams had a lower batting average than Milwaukee and the Brewers bullpen has been shaky.
After losing three close games at Kansas City, Milwaukee responded by scoring 15 runs in three games against the Twins. While the Brewers, who still trail NL Central-leading Cincinnati by 8 1/2 games, couldn't get a key hit against the Twins bullpen, they hit the ball hard.
``Their defense took away some runs, Span with a great catch, (Ben) Revere with two great catches,' Roenicke said. ``We did a lot of things well. It didn't turn out with a win, but we did a lot of things well. Aramis (Ramirez) squares up four balls and they're outs.'
Before Span's single on a groundball through the right side of the infield with two outs in the 15th inning, the Brewers bullpen held Minnesota scoreless for 6 2-3 innings.
Minnesota's Trevor Plouffe led off the 15th with a single off Tim Dillard (0-2), and went to second on a single by Brian Dozier, two batters later. Carroll then lined a single to right field. Plouffe ran through a stop sign by third base coach Steve Liddle and was tagged out in a rundown. Dozier advanced to third base during the play.
Left-hander Juan Perez came in to face Span.
``(Perez) throws three good pitches and the last one he gets down and they hit a groundball right through the hole,' Roenicke said.
In losing, the Brewers wasted a strong starting performance from Zach Greinke, who was effective for six-plus innings before getting into trouble. After walking the leadoff batter, Greinke got two quick outs. But Minnesota got consecutive hits from Jamey Carroll,Span, Revere and Joe Mauer.
Those hits turned what had been a 4-1 lead into a tie game.
``Most of their hits were on mistakes, just catching too much of the plate,' Greinke said. ``They had a good approach, not trying to do too much. When they stayed with what they were given, they went up the middle and they hit the ball pretty well.'
In eight innings, Greinke allowed 12 hits and four runs, striking out six - including Josh Willingham four times. Greinke allowed more than one earned run for just the second time in eight starts.
``Zach pitched great, he had the one inning,' Roenicke said. ``He gets two outs and they string together a bunch of hits on him. Sometimes you're cruising along, he was throwing the ball great, really commanding the ball. Sometimes you get to the bottom of the order, you don't bear down as much and all of a sudden you're in trouble.'
The Brewers appeared on their way to the series sweep when Corey Hart hit a full-count pitch from Nick Blackburn into the right field seats to give Milwaukee a 4-1 lead.
But after the Twins tied the game, the Brewers were unable to get a key clutch hit. Milwaukee had runners in scoring position in the 12th, 14th and 15th innings.
``They got the hit with the guy in scoring position and we didn't,' Roenicke said. ``They had their opportunities before that also, we both did. We both could have won the game a lot earlier. That's the way it goes.'
But as the Brewers return home for a series against Toronto, they feel better than they had when they arrived in Minneapolis.
``I thought we played a good solid game,' Greinke said. ``And if we play like that, we'll win a lot more than we lose.'
NOTES: Milwaukee returns home to face Toronto Monday. The Brewers are scheduled to send Randy Wolf (2-5, 5.06) to the mound against Henderson Alvarez (3-3, 3.87). ... Milwaukee relief pitcher Jose Veras had his hip flexor tighten up when he ran to cover first base in the 12th inning, but Roenicke doesn't expect it to be a serious injury. ... Minnesota RF Revere made a stumbling catch at the warning track to rob Norichika Aoki of an extra-base hit starting off the 11th, his third outstanding catch of the game.
The Associated Press News Service
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