MILWAUKEE — The Minnesota Twins are embracing the underdog role.
Byron Buxton and Joe Mauer each had three singles and the Twins beat the Milwaukee Brewers for the fourth consecutive game, 7-2 on Thursday night.
The Twins, who have won five straight and are 7-3 in August, had 12 hits — 11 singles and a double — to sweep a home-and-home, four-game set with Milwaukee.
“We’re energized, and you can feel it,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “These guys are enjoying a little bit of an underdog role here and we’ve been able to put together a little bit of a run.”
The Brewers have lost five straight games, are 7-17 since July 16 and fell into third place in the NL Central with the loss.
Rookie Alan Busenitz (1-0) pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief for his first major league win. He was the first of four Minnesota relievers to pitch 6 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
“We get to their bullpen early and let their relievers just run through some innings far too easily,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s something we’ve struggled with. Against these relievers, we’re not putting up much of a fight.”
Milwaukee starter Zach Davies (13-6) allowed seven runs, six earned, a career-high 11 hits and two walks while striking out three in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander struggled after allowing just three earned runs and 19 hits over 28 2/3 innings his past four starts.
Mauer came into the game in a 1-for-20 slump. He went 3 for 5 with singles in the third, fourth and sixth innings.
“He comes up and gets three big hits,” Molitor said of Mauer. “Two top spots (in the lineup) were 0 for 10 but we get 12, 13 hits and score seven runs. So, there’s a lot of ways to get it done and that adds to the confidence collectively.”
Buxton was 6 for 27 since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 1. He was 3 for 4 with singles in the second, third and fifth innings, his first multi-hit game since July 6.
The Twins scored three runs in the second and third innings off Davies. Minnesota strung together four consecutive hits to open the second inning to take a 3-0 lead.
Keon Broxton homered with two outs in the second, his 16th, for Milwaukee to make it 3-1. The homer snapped a 15-inning scoreless streak for the Brewers.
Mauer led off the third with a single, and the Twins had five singles in the inning to open a 6-1 lead.
Twins SS Jorge Polanco has an eight-game winning streak (14 for 28) and said he has made adjustments at the plate. “When things aren’t going well you have to make adjustments,” he said.
DIDN’T ENNS WELL
Minnesota starter Dietrich Enns, making his major league debut after joining the Twins organization July 30 in the trade that sent Jaime Garcia to the Yankees, lasted only 2 1/3 innings, giving up two runs, one earned, five hits and a walk. Molitor pulled him after just 53 pitches. The left-hander regularly threw 85-95 pitches in his minor league starts. “We have some options, obviously, and probably are going to sleep on it and see what we come up with (Friday),” Molitor said of whether Enns will remain with the team.
Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun has multiple hits in five consecutive games, going 12 for 21 to raise hit batting average to .289 from .260.
Twins: LHP Glen Perkins (left shoulder strain) pitched one inning in a rehab outing for Double-A Chattanooga on Thursday night against Birmingham. The three-time AL All-Star, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since April 10, 2016 due to injury, allowed one hit in 11 pitches.
Brewers: 3B Travis Shaw rejoined the team Thursday after missing a game due to personal reasons. … C Stephen Vogt (left knee strain) participated in baseball drills Thursday and is expected to begin a rehab assignment this weekend.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (6-9) takes the mound at Detroit, his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Aug. 4.
Brewers: RHP Jimmy Nelson (9-5) pitches when the team opens a three-game series against Cincinnati.
This version corrects Brewers’ losing streak to five games.