Plouffe's go-ahead homer wins it in 11 innings

Plouffe's go-ahead homer wins it in 11 innings

Plouffe's go-ahead homer wins it in 11 innings
MILWAUKEE -- With a .135 batting average entering Saturday's game against the Brewers, Trevor Plouffe has undoubtedly had his fair share of struggles at the plate.

But Plouffe has been enjoying a power surge of late, homering in back-to-back games against the Tigers on Wednesday and Thursday, and it continued in a big moment against the Interleague rival Brewers on Saturday.

Plouffe provided a dramatic blast for Minnesota with a go-ahead solo home run in the 11th inning to give the Twins a 5-4 win over the Brewers at Miller Park.

"He's put some nice swings out there and that was a big one today," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "When he got up there you saw everyone jump up and say, "Catch one.' In extra innings sometimes that gets in the way, trying to hit home runs instead of staying with your swing. But at that point, I think we were all yelling for him to hit a home run. And he clicked on it. It was pretty exciting."

Plouffe's homer off reliever Manny Parra came on a 2-0 fastball and was his third over his last four games. It had the Twins excited in the dugout, as it helped them to their fourth straight victory after Matt Capps tossed a 1-2-3 11th to pick up his ninth save in nine opportunities.

"I knew as soon as he hit," right fielder Ben Revere said with a smile. "I knew once he got him down 2-0, he was going to throw him a cookie and Trevor was going to drive it. Luckily, he got it over the fence and it was just a sigh of relief. We knew Capper was going to shut them down, so it was a good feeling."

The big hit from Plouffe came after the Brewers tied the game on Aramis Ramirez's two-run homer off reliever Jared Burton with two outs in the eighth.

It denied a victory for right-hander Carl Pavano, who allowed two runs on five hits over six innings. Pavano, who has been dealing with a strain in the front of his pitching shoulder, was on a limited pitch count, as he threw 86 pitches, but it was his highest total since April 21.

"It's always a work in progress, but I thought I was definitely stronger," Pavano said. "Everything is moving in the right direction. And it was a big win. It was four wins in a row, which we haven't done this year."

Pavano exited with the game tied at 2-2, but the Twins re-took the lead in the top of the seventh, when Ben Revere was plunked by reliever Juan Perez with the bases loaded.

The Twins added an insurance run in the eighth on an RBI single from Jamey Carroll with the infield in, after Butera doubled off the left-field wall to move Alexi Casilla from first to third. But the Twins left another runner at third base, as they ended up stranding eight runners.

"We had a lot of opportunities to get a big hit," Gardenhire said. "I don't know how many we left on base, but it seemed like an awful lot. But it was a good pitching performance from both sides."

Minnesota opened the scoring against Yovani Gallardo in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Brian Dozier after Revere doubled and stole third base.

But the Brewers came back with a run in the bottom of the frame on an RBI single by Jonathan Lucroy to bring home Nyjer Morgan, who singled and stole second.

Minnesota retook the lead in the sixth on another sacrifice fly from Dozier with the bases loaded. But the Twins stranded two runners that frame, as Casilla popped out to end the inning.

Milwaukee answered with a run in the bottom of the sixth, when Ryan Braun laced an RBI single to score Morgan.

But the Brewers could only muster two more runs on Ramirez's homer in the eighth, as they stranded two runners in the 10th against reliever Jeff Gray.

And while the Twins have been playing well with four straight wins, the Brewers have now lost four in a row.

"I know we played bad last year early on, but I don't remember it ever being like this," right fielder Corey Hart said. "It's a struggle. You think you hit rock bottom, and then it gets worse."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.