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MIN@MIL: Mauer makes an excellent diving stop for out

MILWAUKEE -- Trevor Plouffe played a couple steps too far back, Kyle Gibson went with the wrong pitch and the Minnesota Twins were saddled with a 6-2 loss in Milwaukee on Monday.

Former Twins starting pitcher Matt Garza delivered one of his best performances of the year for the Brewers, keeping the Twins' bats silent. Gibson, slumping Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham all provided flashes of promise, but Minnesota's single tallies scratched across in the eighth and ninth were not enough.

Garza, who now owns a 1.77 ERA against the team with whom he made his Major League debut in 2006, recorded his first career victory against Minnesota by delivering his first scoreless outing of the season. He signed a four-year contract with Milwaukee prior to 2014.

"I think he likes those one-on-one confrontations," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Garza. "I think he likes it when he gets up there and sees [Oswaldo] Arcia swinging big, taking big hacks. I think that fuels him. You always used to see that with us. He likes the challenge. You could see him reach back and get a little something extra. We didn't see the nasty slider tonight as much as we thought we would, but he had a changeup that was diving all over the place. So it looked like he had one pitch that he felt comfortable with and not another, but ultimately it comes down to the fastball, and he was pounding that sucker with good velocity tonight."

Gibson, who has notably struggled in road contests this year, allowed four runs on six hits in six innings, but it was an encouraging showing coming off a superb home start against Texas. He threw 54 of his 77 pitches for strikes, did not walk a batter and retired the first nine batters he faced.

The early perfect game bid was squashed by Jean Segura's leadoff bunt in the fourth, and the Brewers went on to score twice in the frame. Playing at third base, Plouffe began the at-bat playing in to guard against the bunt, but retreated back when the count went to 2-0.

"My options are to either go back in and risk the ball down the line or to stay back," Plouffe said. "I think I probably should have moved back in. I just gave him a free hit. Obviously, wrong call."

Added Gardenhire, "You get two strikes on him, you back up, and until that point you stay in there. Trev backed up and he dropped the bunt down. That's kind of a cardinal sin. You can't let that guy lead off with a bunt there."

Jonathan Lucroy singled up the middle and moved to second when a throw from center fielder Danny Santana went wide of home and late as Segura scored. Carlos Gomez mimicked Lucroy with an RBI grounder back up the middle to make it 2-0.

"The Lucroy one I left over the middle," Gibson said. "Gomez being a pull hitter, we had the shortstop shaded a little bit, and that's where you're going to play him in that situation. Both of them just found a hole, and unfortunately, that's how it goes."

Milwaukee scored twice more in the fifth when Mark Reynolds muscled out an opposite-field two-run home run off the end of the bat, giving the Brewers a 4-0 lead.

"I just made the wrong pitch," Gibson said. "I had a guy on second and less than two outs. I had gotten Reynolds away his first at-bat, and any good hitter is trying to move the runner over to third. I got beat on not my best pitch, throwing a four-seamer away. The sinker is obviously my best pitch, and a sinker there, I probably feel a whole lot better about it."

Gibson was one-half inning removed from his first Major League hit, a two-out single that set the table for a key Twins opportunity in the fifth. Gibson moved to third when Brian Dozier's screamer to center got a little behind Gomez for a double. Mauer, who showed signs of breaking out of a slump with doubles in each of his first two at-bats and three hits overall, struck out on three pitches against Garza to end the threat.

Gardenhire thought the baserunning opportunity could have had an unintended consequence for Gibson.

"He got his first big league hit and he's smiling in the dugout and probably lost his concentration for a minute," Gardenhire said. "He's been pounding that thing all day in there sinking it and got a couple up. He was excited about a hit, and when you get on the mound, you have to get back locked in. He probably relaxed just a little bit."

Gibson said he had shaken off the extra adrenaline rush after a couple warmup pitches, and he retired the next three batters after Reynolds hit the home run. He did not walk a batter for a third consecutive start.

"I feel like I didn't see one strike," Gomez said. "He's got really good sink, and I think that guy's going to have a really good career. He's a big guy, has a good slider and works both sides of the plate really good and makes you chase. When you can command the sink, you're going to get some outs."

The Brewers added on in the seventh when Plouffe committed errors on back-to-back batters that allowed another run to trot across. Jonathan Lucroy capped the scoring in the eighth with a home run against Anthony Swarzak.

Minnesota finally scraped one across in the eighth when Willingham's tapper to third base went for an RBI single. Willingham reached base four times with two walks and now has a .500 on-base percentage in 34 plate appearances since returning from injury May 26. Dozier notched an RBI single in the ninth before Mauer struck out against reliever Zach Duke to end the game.

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