MILWAUKEE (AP)—Brewers manager Ned Yost had two big decisions to make. He picked correctly each time.
Cameron hit a two-run homer, McClung continued his resurgence as a starter and the bullpen pulled through, lifting the Brewers to a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.
“I made the right decision, at least for today,” Yost said. “Mike needs to play to get going, and when he gets going like we’ve talked about before— you guys haven’t seen it yet, but he can really carry a team.”
The Brewers snapped a six-game losing streak in interleague play dating to last season and avoided being swept in the first series of a nine-game interleague homestand.
Relievers Brian Shouse, Guillermo Mota and Salomon Torres, who picked up his eighth save, each pitched a hitless inning after the bullpen gave up 13 runs— though only six earned—the previous two games. Yost debated whether to send McClung back out before selecting Shouse.
“He wasn’t tired, he wasn’t overworked, but I thought that with Shousey, Mota and Torres I could get the next nine outs,” Yost said.
Mota, who struck out the side in the eighth, got some help from plate umpire Brian Runge, who called strike three on Brendan Harris after Harris asked for time but didn’t get it. Harris wasn’t looking and was shocked that the pitch was thrown. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected for arguing the call.
Harris said he saw catcher Jason Kendall setting up to catch after he’d asked for time, but thought Mota might be changing the ball. Then came the pitch.
“He’s not changing the ball with an 85 mile-per-hour slider,” Harris said.
Gardenhire was still upset after the game.
“I was in shock. I honestly didn’t know what I saw. My guy is looking down and not even looking at the pitcher. If he gets hit in the head, what are we going to do then? That’s embarrassing. I don’t get it at all. That’s wrong,” Gardenhire said. “‘Call the league,’ that’s what I was told.”
Cameron had been 6-for-45 before his at-bat in the sixth, when hit a fastball from Twins starter Scott Baker (2-2) into the Brewers bullpen to give Milwaukee a 3-2 lead. Baker had walked Russell Branyan, who added a two-out RBI single in the first, on four pitches before Cameron connected.
“It was a big two runs,” Cameron said. “It was just good, man, to be involved and do something positive and help the team get a victory with Seth pitching a good game like he did.”
Cameron finished 2-for-3, also scoring on Kendall’s single in the eighth.
McClung (4-3) continued his superb turnaround since leaving the long relief role in the bullpen, scattering two runs and four hits. The righty nicknamed “Chucky” after the horror movie character has pitched six innings in each of his last three starts, giving up a total of five earned runs with 13 strikeouts against just one walk.
“My mechanics have always been fine, it’s just mentally, a mindset of just really not trying to overthrow that’s gotten me where I am right now,” said McClung, who was once a top-rated prospect in the Tampa Bay system before injuries and inconsistency eventually led the organization to trade him last season. “Enough was enough, I didn’t really mesh well with that group of players over there. I came over here and meshed well.”
Minnesota, which finished a tough road trip 3-7, built a 2-1 lead after a homer by Jason Kubel in the fifth and a sacrifice fly by Alexi Casilla in the sixth, but that was all the Twins got against McClung.
Baker fanned four batters in the third to become the first Twins pitcher to accomplish the feat, finishing with a strikeout of Cameron.
But the righty, who hasn’t won a game since April 9, couldn’t get around Cameron again in the sixth and was finished after the inning, allowing seven hits and two walks with nine strikeouts.
“It came down to one pitch,” Baker said. “If I could take one pitch away, it went from a great outing to an average one.”
Twins C Joe Mauer pinch hit in the ninth after he worked all 12 innings behind the plate on Saturday night. … Brewers RHP Eric Gagne (right rotator cuff) threw around 25 pitches off the mound after long toss before the game. … Twins RHP Nick Blackburn (elbow) has muscle soreness and will skip his next start. With an off day Monday, Blackburn is now slated to Saturday against Arizona. He stressed there were no problems with the ligaments in his elbow. “It’s not a big deal,” he said.