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Paddack battles through emotions in first start in nearly 2 years

MILWAUKEE – After Chris Paddack completed his fourth inning Wednesday, Byron Buxton found his teammate in the dugout and gave him a hug.

"He was just like, 'Man, bring it in, dude. It's cool to see you back out there doing what you love,'" said Paddack, who made his first major league start since May 8, 2022, in the Twins' 7-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Paddack made four appearances out of the bullpen at the end of last season, two in the regular season and two in the postseason, but he still carried a lot of emotion in his return as a starter.

He allowed six hits and two runs in four innings, which included two infield singles back to the mound and a solo homer he gave up to Rhys Hoskins.

"He wasn't the crispest, but he battled through his emotions," catcher Ryan Jeffers said. "His heart rate was probably 150 [beats per minute] the entire game, just so excited to be out there."

When Paddack reflected on his season debut during his post-start arm care routine, he thought there were positives. He escaped a bases-loaded jam with one out in the first inning, inducing a double play after falling into a 2-0 count against Hoskins.

Then he started thinking about all the days he spent in Texas and Fort Myers, Fla., recovering from Tommy John surgery and waiting for a day like Wednesday.

"I just went out there and enjoyed the moment, enjoyed the game," he said. "My family was here. It's the small things in life that we sometimes tend to forget."

Kirilloff has career day

Alex Kirilloff attempted to play through a shoulder injury over the final 2½ months of last season, and that likely had an impact on his swing.

When Kirilloff is healthy, the Twins expect him to look more like the version they saw Wednesday. Kirilloff reached base five times with a career-high four hits. He had a double and a triple.

"When he was healthy last year, and playing for us, he was dynamite," Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He was showing good patience on pitches. He was really whacking pitches that were the ones he was looking for. I mean, he couldn't be more locked in."

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Okert takes the ninth

A two-out RBI single from Jeffers in the ninth inning spoiled a chance for Twins lefty reliever Steven Okert to earn his first career save.

Baldelli opted to deploy Brock Stewart in the seventh inning, with a three-run lead, as the Brewers flipped their lineup back to the top of the batting order, and Griffin Jax pitched in the eighth inning against the middle of the order.

It wasn't a lefty-heavy part of the lineup for Okert, but he struck out three batters after issuing a leadoff walk.

"At that point in the game, Okert with the experience was probably the answer,' Baldelli said.

Etc.

• Baldelli picked up his 378th managerial win Wednesday, which tied him with Gene Mauch (1976-80) for fourth place on the Twins' all-time list. Sam Mele (1961-67) ranks third with 522 wins.

• The St. Paul Saints jumped out to a four-run lead after DaShawn Keirsey's triple and doubles by Tanner Morris and Dalton Shuffield, and they held on for a 6-5 road win against the Nashville Sounds on Wednesday night.