Brewers' rally squelched by Twins
Suppan gives up nine runs; Spurling surrenders walk-off
MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Morneau beat the Brewers on Sunday with a line-drive home run in the bottom of the ninth inning over the "baggie" in right-center field at the Metrodome.
Morneau's conventional homer had nothing on 262-pound Prince Fielder's first-to-home scamper in the previous half-inning, one of those remarkable baseball moments that left players doubled over with laughter in the dugout and the Brewers feeling as good as could be expected about their 10-9 loss to the Twins.
"It actually felt like I was in Little League," said Fielder, who leads the National League with 25 home runs and had Brewers teammates wondering whether a league home run king had ever hit an inside-the-parker.
"It was kind of funny," Fielder said. "I never thought I would be able to do that. That was the perfect spot, I guess."
Twins center fielder Lew Ford lost track of Fielder's fly ball leading off the ninth inning, and as it bounced around in straightaway center field the Brewers designated hitter laughed -- and sprinted -- all the way around the bases with the first inside-the-park home run by a Brewer since speedster Eric Young legged one out in May 2003.
"That's not going to happen again," Brewers right fielder Corey Hart said, before catching himself. "I mean, we would be happy if it does."
Fielder scored the first of two Brewers runs in the inning against Twins closer Joe Nathan (3-1), who suffered his second blown save of the season but also took the win after Morneau took Chris Spurling (1-1) deep leading off the bottom of the ninth.
Jeff Suppan set season-highs, allowing nine runs on 10 hits in a season-low 4 2/3 innings, while the Brewers snapped a four-game winning streak and missed a chance to sweep the Twins in Minnesota for the first time since 1996. But after scratching back from deficits of 5-0 and 9-2 and finishing an Interleague road trip with five runs versus four losses, the Brewers were having a hard time getting down on themselves.
"We're not too upset about it," Fielder said. "We won the series, and plus we were able to come back on a guy like [Nathan]. You just have to tip your cap to Morneau on the home run. That's what he does, and he got it done tonight."
Hart homered twice and J.J. Hardy and Tony Graffanino hit one apiece, but Graffanino and Hart both missed opportunities to put Milwaukee over the top in the ninth. After Fielder's improbable home run, the Brewers hit three consecutive singles against Nathan, who had converted 14 of 15 saves this season with a 1.91 ERA entering the day.
Facing a bases-loaded, no-out jam, Nathan got a huge out when he whiffed Graffanino on a high fastball. Craig Counsell followed with a sacrifice fly that knotted the game at 9 and pushed baserunners to second and third base, but Hart struck out on another fastball to end the inning.
"His fastball was really running away," said Hart, who teamed with Hardy in the fifth inning on the Brewers' first back-to-back home runs since April 8. "It's tough, especially because he has that slider."
Morneau hit Spurling's second pitch in the bottom of the ninth to win it. Three of Morneau's 20 home runs have won games in the bottom of the ninth.
The Twins' win earned a measure of redemption for Ford, but so did his career-high four RBIs. Ford replaced Torii Hunter in the bottom of the first inning after Hunter was struck on the left hand by a Suppan pitch.
That errant pitch was one of many for Suppan, who had not allowed this many runs since last July 5 at Atlanta when he surrendered 10 runs, nine of them earned. Suppan had not surrendered 10 hits in a game since Aug. 4, 2005, when he pitched 7 2/3 innings in a loss to the Marlins.
"He struggled to get the ball down all afternoon," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "He pitched really good in Detroit [on Tuesday], but it was one of those days today where he struggled to get his fastball down. He's always been a command guy, but over the course of a season, it happens.
"Guys have good days and bad days. Today, being short in the [bullpen], we were trying to hang on as long as we could with him."
The outing continued a downward trend for Suppan, who signed a club-record four-year contract in the offseason and began his Brewers career 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA and nine walks in his first seven starts spanning 48 innings. In the 48 innings since, spanning eight starts, he is 2-6 with a 6.75 ERA and 23 walks. Asked about that disparity, Suppan said he does not compare starts and instead that, "I look at the whole season."
"They were able to capitalize on my lack of location," Suppan said. "It was up, for sure. It was away when I wanted to go in. ... I've got to pitch with command, and today I really didn't have much."
The Brewers cut the deficit to 9-7 entering the ninth, when Fielder created the highlight that he will hear about for some time. Ford's miscue was understandable, said Hart, who played right field throughout the series and was happy to be finished with the Metrodome's white roof. Hart compared it to looking up at a cloud.
Even in a loss, there were positives, he insisted.
"We kept getting guys on, we kept scratching," Hart said. "We were seven down, then five down, and we kept coming back. It's a moral victory more than anything. It's tough to come back like that."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.