MINNEAPOLIS -- Mike Pelfrey helped the Twins avoid a three-game sweep, as the right-hander tossed eight scoreless innings to lead the Twins to a 2-0 win over the Brewers on Sunday afternoon at Target Field.
Pelfrey continued his impressive run, as he's posted a 0.96 ERA in 28 innings over his last four starts to lower his season ERA to 2.28 in 11 outings. He allowed a hit in all eight innings, but used three double plays to his advantage and struck out seven. He remained in the game to face Ryan Braun with two outs in the eighth after a single by Jonathan Lucroy and was helped by a leaping catch from third baseman Eduardo Nunez to end the inning.
"It's his day today," Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez said of Pelfrey. "When a guy [has] it like that, there's nothing you can do. You just continue to try and make the situation happen, but he threw a great game today."
He outlasted Brewers right-hander Mike Fiers, who gave up two runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings. He left with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, but the Twins were unable to score against reliever Neal Cotts. Minnesota went just 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, scoring twice in the second on an RBI double from Eddie Rosario and an RBI triple from Eduardo Escobar.
"It was a big-time performance," Twins manager Paul Molitor said about Pelfrey. "It's been a tough week for our bullpen in terms of usage so to get eight innings was really big. And all zeros. And we probably could've scored more to take the pressure off there."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Twins strike early: The Twins jumped out to an early two-run lead keyed by an RBI double from Rosario after Torii Hunter drew a leadoff walk. Escobar connected on an RBI triple on the very next pitch, but was stranded at third.
"The leadoff walk by Torii kind of got us going back in the second," Molitor said. "Rosario with a big hit and Escobar with a big hit. But we didn't get the third one that inning. But with Mike, it stood up."
Milwaukee's bullpen comes through: Cotts bailed starter Fiers out of a jam in the fifth, coming in with the bases loaded and one out and stranding all three runners. Cotts struck out both Rosario and Escobar swinging. The next inning, Michael Blazek bailed out Cotts, coming in with two on and one out and retiring Brian Dozier and Kurt Suzuki. Corey Knebel also pitched a scoreless inning.
"They keep doing their job. You put them in a spot, tough spots," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "They're performing and they give you a chance."
Pelfrey spares the bullpen: The Twins were in need of a deep start, as they were coming off a bullpen day on Saturday that saw them use five relievers after a doubleheader in Boston on Wednesday. And Pelfrey delivered, as he went a season-high eight innings before closer Glen Perkins came in for the ninth to pick up his Major League-leading 21st save. More >
Brewers stuck on first: Milwaukee had no shortage of baserunners. For the first eight innings, the Brewers had a hit. But just one batter -- Braun -- made it past first. The Brewers didn't advance runners when they needed to and rolled into three double plays. More >
"All the balls that we hit hard [were] right at somebody," Gomez said. "We hit like three hard line drives to straight center field."
"He's pitching with a little anger, a little passion and a sense of urgency to get it done. Every outing he goes out, his concentration level is on another level. He's hitting spots. He's hitting 96 [mph] in the eighth. His ball is moving like crazy. He's one of the best pitchers in baseball right now." -- Hunter, on Pelfrey
"It was just a struggle. One of those games where I just had to battle through. Just felt like I battled all day. Like I had to battle every pitch." -- Fiers, on his start
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Pelfrey completed eight innings for the first time since joining the Twins in 2013, a span of 45 starts. It marked the first time he went eight frames since April 21, 2012, while with the Mets.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: The Brewers will continue their road trip with three games in Pittsburgh starting Monday at 6:05 CT. Jimmy Nelson will take the ball for the third time this season against the Pirates. Nelson is 2-6 with a 4.41 ERA on the season.
Twins: The Twins remain at home for a three-game set against the second-place Royals that begins Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Right-hander Phil Hughes makes the start for Minnesota in the series opener. He's coming off his first loss since April 24.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.