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Brewers stop Twins: Garza holds Twins to 2 runs, Brewers get 4th win in 5 games

Photo By Benny Sieu / USA TODAY Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett, top, completes a double play after forcing Minnesota shortstop Danny Santana out in the ninth inning of Monday’s game at Miller Park in Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE — Matt Garza’s first season with the Milwaukee Brewers hasn’t been easy.

Since flirting with a no-hitter in his first start of the year, Garza produced up-and-down results the next two months, and he had just one victory in his past six starts before Monday.

In the series opener against Minnesota, though, Garza showed the form that convinced the Brewers to give him a four-year, $50 million contract during the offseason. He threw 6 1/3 shutout innings as the Brewers beat the Twins 6-2 Monday in an interleague contest at Miller Park.

“He came out with a great fastball, he located it well, it had life on it, his sliders were outstanding, and he threw good curveballs,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “I thought this was a really good game for him.

Garza (3-4) used his slider on four of his eight strikeouts. The biggest came in the fifth inning, when he got out of a jam by striking out Twins first baseman Joe Mauer.

Mauer entered the night with a .340 career average in 23 games at Miller Park, and he doubled his first two times up Monday.

With runners at second and third and two outs, Garza threw a slider for strike one. Mauer fouled off a fastball for strike two before Garza buried a slider inside to end the inning.

“We had some momentum, and the last thing I wanted to do was go out there and break it,” Garza said. “Mauer is a great hitter. He already hit two doubles, and I just basically said, ‘If you’re not going to hit this, no one is.’

“I just tried to get it really far in there. He swung, and it worked out.”

Garza struck out two more in the sixth, and despite having thrown 100 pitches, he came back out for the seventh. He retired shortstop Eduardo Santana on a fly ball but allowed a base hit to switch-hitting center fielder Danny Santana.

Roenicke turned to lefty Will Smith, who ended the inning by getting pinch hitter Eduardo Nunez to bounce into a double play.

The Brewers have struggled to score runs in Garza’s starts, but after a slow beginning, Milwaukee finally got to Minnesota right-hander Kyle Gibson (4-5), scoring two in the fourth on back-to-back RBI singles by catcher Jonathan Lucroy and center fielder Carlos Gomez.

Milwaukee added a run in the fifth on Mark Reynolds’ team-leading 13th home run of the season. Lucroy hit a solo shot, his third homer of the year, in the eighth.

“We had a good plan today,” said Gibson, who allowed six hits and four runs over six innings. “They were aggressive, and with the way the wind was, I kind of had a feeling my sinker was going to be moving down and in to the righties. And it was from the get-go, and I was able to make a lot of pitches early.”

Minnesota pounded out 12 hits — six against Garza — but went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.

“We had chances and just couldn’t come up with the big hit,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We missed a few plays, but more than anything else, you still feel like you’ve got a chance. These guys, you always feel like you have a chance even late in the game, so you’ve got to keep playing like that. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Trailing 5-0, the Twins finally got on the board in the eighth on an RBI single by left fielder Josh Willingham. They added another in the ninth on Brian Dozier’s base hit, which drove in Escobar, before lefty Zach Duke struck out Mauer to end it.

Milwaukee, which snapped a five-game losing streak to Minnesota, won for the fifth time in six games overall.

The Twins lost for the seventh time in 10 games.