Twins-Brewers Preview

The Associated Press

Ryan Braun is starting to heat up for the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers.

They figure to become all the more dangerous if Matt Garza can find his form.

Garza tries to do just that against his former team as the Brewers open a home-and-home series with the visiting Minnesota Twins on Monday night.

Milwaukee (34-23) has averaged 7.0 runs while going 16 for 41 with runners in scoring position during a 4-1 stretch. They took two of three from the Chicago Cubs over the weekend, with Braun and Scooter Gennett combining for five hits and two homers and Lyle Overbay recording a season-high three RBIs in Sunday's 9-0 victory.

Kyle Lohse pitched his first complete game and bested Jeff Samardzija, who entered with a major league-leading 1.68 ERA.

Braun has gone 14 for 28 with seven extra-base hits - two homers - and nine RBIs over the last seven games.

"I've seen better swings from him," manager Ron Roenicke said of Braun, who appears to be over a nagging rib injury. "I hope that's a real good sign."

The Brewers would love to see Garza (2-4, 4.84 ERA) get on track, too. The right-hander has recorded just six quality starts in 11 outings while issuing 3.2 walks per nine innings, his highest mark since 2009.

Garza yielded six runs - three earned - over 6 2-3 innings of Tuesday's 7-6, 10-inning win over Baltimore. He held the Orioles scoreless through four before coming undone.

"I felt like I had the best stuff I've had so far," Garza said. "My command was there, my mechanics - everything. ... You just hang your head and get ready for the next start. You don't change too much and stick with what I did."

Garza, who spent the first two years of his career with the Twins, allowed three hits and struck out nine over seven innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 walkoff win against Minnesota with Texas on Aug. 31. Josh Willingham is 0 for 6 versus Garza and Kurt Suzuki is 1 for 7.

Carlos Gomez also spent two years in Minnesota before getting sent to Milwaukee in 2010. He is hitting .385 with five homers and 11 RBIs in 15 games against the Twins since the trade.

Minnesota (26-28) just took two of three at Yankee Stadium, winning 7-2 in Sunday's finale. The Twins found themselves on the verge of defeat before putting together a six-run ninth inning.

Phil Hughes threw eight strong innings to beat his former team and Willingham homered for the third time in four days.

"It was a big win for us," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "To score six runs against that bullpen in the ninth was pretty impressive, and so was winning two out of three here."

The Twins give the ball to Kyle Gibson (4-4, 4.18), who threw 107 pitches over six innings in a 1-0 loss to Texas on Wednesday.

"I want 105 pitches to last me seven, eight or nine innings," Gibson said. "I want to be more efficient. I probably had seven or eight three-ball counts. I think a lot of those turned into outs, so I'm just wasting pitches. If I can get guys out on three or four pitches, it makes a big difference."

Gibson is 1-3 with a 7.77 ERA on the road compared to 3-1 with a 1.85 mark at home.

The Twins are seeking a sixth straight win over the Brewers after taking all four matchups last year. The teams play one more at Miller Park on Tuesday before shifting the series to Minnesota on Wednesday.

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