Brewers-Twins Preview

The Associated Press

A day after celebrating his 26th birthday with his first career two-homer game, Trevor Plouffe has a chance to become the first Minnesota Twin in 17 years to hit the ball out of the park in five straight contests.

Milwaukee right-hander Michael Fiers could stop that from happening a day after turning 27 as the Twins and Brewers continue their three-game series at Target Field on Saturday.

With solo shots off Yovani Gallardo in the fifth and sixth innings of Friday's 5-3 loss, Plouffe took over the team lead with 14 homers. He also leads the majors with 13 since May 16.

Before this 22-game stretch, he had 11 homers in the first 125 games of his career.

"He's on the ball," manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins' official website following the team's third straight defeat. "He's fun to watch. You see guys getting on hitting streaks, but it's not too often you see a guy almost every time he puts a good swing on the ball it goes in the seats."

The last Twin to homer in five consecutive games was Marty Cordova from May 16-20, 1995.

Fiers (1-2, 4.50 ERA) didn't give up a long ball in his last start, but he was tagged for four runs and 10 hits in last Saturday's 5-2 loss to San Diego.

It was the right-hander's third major league start, all since being called up May 29 to replace Marco Estrada (strained quadriceps) in the rotation.

"Fiers threw too many hittable pitches," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "They didn't crush balls but they put the ball in play a lot."

Ryan Braun will try to extend his hitting streak against Minnesota (25-38) to 11 after hitting a three-run shot - his 17th homer - in Friday's series opener. The reigning NL MVP is also batting .408 (31 for 76) during a 20-game interleague hitting streak.

Braun and the Brewers (29-35) will get their first look at Liam Hendriks (0-2, 9.00) on Saturday.

The Australian right-hander will be called up from Triple-A Rochester to start in place of injured starter Carl Pavano.

Hendriks makes his first big league appearance since surrendering six runs in 2 1-3 innings of a 9-0 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels on May 2, the game in which Jered Weaver threw a no-hitter.

"He was lost," Gardenhire said of Hendriks. "The last outing that he had up here, he was screaming at himself in the dugout. He needed to take it easy. Go down and get some confidence. Right now, it sounds like he got it."

Hendriks went 5-0 with a 1.94 ERA in seven starts since being sent down last month.

"I've been messing around with mechanics a little bit, just trying to get a little bit more comfortable and I finally hit a little groove," said Hendriks, who's 0-4 in eight career major league starts.

It's uncertain if Twins first baseman Justin Morneau will make an appearance Saturday after sitting out the series opener with left forearm soreness. Morneau was on the 15-day disabled list last month with soreness in his left wrist.

After Martin Maldonado's two-run ninth-inning homer was the difference Friday, the Brewers can win two straight at Minnesota for the first time in exactly five years.

Milwaukee had lost 14 of its last 19 on the road against the Twins heading into this series.

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