Brewers 8, Twins 1
MILWAUKEE (AP)—Wes Helms is finally getting used to his role as an everyday player.
Helms, who spent the last three seasons on the bench in Atlanta, hit two home runs and drove in five runs, and John Vander Wal homered and had two RBIs as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Minnesota Twins 8-1 Saturday night.
“It took me a while to get comfortable playing every game,” Helms said after going 3-for-3 with a sacrifice fly.
“He’s just gotten better and better every game,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said, then complimented Helms for his constant work with batting coach Butch Wynegar.
“He’s feeling more comfortable and more at ease every game.”
The Twins have lost five of six on their seven-game road trip. The Brewers have won the first two of the three-game series with Minnesota.
“First of all, when you come into a series like this, you want to take two out of three,” Helms said. “Now we want to sweep it. We want to come in (Sunday) and play like we did last night and tonight.”
Helms, who now has 13 home runs, followed Vander Wal’s leadoff homer in the fourth with his first home run. He added a three-run shot in the sixth for his first multihomer game this season and third of his career.
Wayne Franklin (3-5) pitched seven innings, allowing one run on five hits and three walks. He struck out two. He worked out of jams in the third and seventh when the Twins had two runners on with one out.
“We’ve talked about it many times,” Yost said. “When our starters keep us in the game, we’re pretty good.”
Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire was impressed with Franklin: “He just kept us off-balance the whole game. He never let us get in a comfort zone off him.”
The Brewers, who won the series opener 3-2 in 10 innings Friday, struck quickly against Kyle Lohse (6-5), scoring two runs in the first inning. Eric Young and Scott Podsednik opened with singles and Geoff Jenkins walked to load the bases for Richie Sexson, who was moved to the cleanup spot for only the third time this season.
Sexson struck out but Vander Wal hit a broken-bat single to center to score Young and Helms had a sacrifice fly to score Podsednik, making it 2-0.
Corey Koskie led off the fourth with his 10th homer, only the second hit for the Twins, to cut the deficit in half. Koskie has 17 RBIs in his last 18 games.
Vander Wal led off the bottom half with his seventh homer, a 400-footer to right, and Helms followed with a 430-foot shot to center for a 4-1 lead.
Helms hit his three-run homer following a single by Sexson and a walk to Vander Wal in the sixth for a 7-1 lead.
His second homer also knocked out Lohse, who allowed seven runs, seven hits and two walks. He struck out four, all in the first two innings.
“Lohse couldn’t keep the ball in the park,” Gardenhire said. “He got some pitches up and they hit them pretty good.”
Lohse has given up 18 runs in 17 innings in three appearances at Miller Park.
“It’s one of those things where some parks you feel comfortable and this isn’t one of them,” Lohse said. “Obviously because of that, I don’t likecoming here.”
Hall of Fame home run king Hank Aaron threw out the ceremonial first pitch Saturday night. He threw a strike and got a long standing ovation. … SS Cristian Guzman had a 14-pitch at-bat in striking out against Franklin in the first inning. … OF Anthony Gwynn, son of future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, worked out with the Brewers prior to the game. The team’s pick in the second round of he draft earlier this month has signed and will report Monday to Class A Beloit (Wis.) of the Midwest League. … RHP Matt Kinney (5-5) pitches against the Twins for the first time Sunday. He was 2-7 for Minnesota lastyear.