Kepler bounces back to lead Twins in 6-5 win over Phillies
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) After Max Kepler made a costly error, Byron Buxton was right there to offer some encouragement.
Whatever Buxton said, it worked.
Kepler made up for his error with a tying single in the fifth inning and the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh as the Minnesota Twins handed the Philadelphia Phillies their ninth straight loss, 6-5 Wednesday night.
The Phillies took a 5-2 lead in the fifth as Andres Blanco singled to right and the ball skipped under Kepler's glove, allowing two runs to score. Ryan Howard followed with an RBI single.
That's when Buxton sought out Kepler to try and pick him up.
''Me and Kep are pretty close. If I made a mistake, he'd do the same for me,'' Buxton said. ''We all got that pretty good connection here.''
In the bottom of the inning, Eduardo Escobar lined a two-run triple that Phillies right fielder Peter Bourjos misjudged. Kepler followed with his tying single.
Kepler's fly ball to left off reliever David Hernandez (1-2) in the seventh drove in Trevor Plouffe with the tiebreaking run.
''I told him he was going to come up in a big situation and he did,'' Buxton said. ''And he came through.''
Taylor Rodgers (3-0) worked a scoreless seventh and Fernando Abad got the last four outs for his first major league save.
''Fernando's pitched in a lot of games and he's pitched well,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ''He got the last four outs and he got them cleanly.''
Cameron Rupp and Blanco homered for the Phillies, who have lost 13 of 14 and are 4-17 in June.
''The only thing I can say is it's good to see the offense show some signs of life,'' Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. ''That's about the only good thing I've got to say today. Other than that, I don't know what to tell you.''
A wild pickoff attempt by Philadelphia starter Adam Morgan allowed the speedy Buxton to advance to second base and score on Eduardo Nunez's single in the second inning to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead.
The defensive miscues and sloppy play from two of the worst teams in baseball came after rain delayed the start of the game by 70 minutes.
But once the Twins regained the lead, their defense picked up.
Kepler made a diving catch to take a hit away from Rupp in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Tyler Goeddel came up next and drove a ball deep to center, only to see Buxton make the catch after leaping, crashing hard into the wall, and crumpling to the ground.
''I knew I was going to hit the wall pretty hard,'' Buxton said. ''I just wanted to hang onto the ball and get us out of the inning.''
Kepler helped his teammate back up and both were smiling while trotting back to the dugout.
Phillies: Reliever Andrew Bailey left the game with a mild left hamstring strain after pitching a perfect sixth inning. He is day-to-day.
Twins: Paul Molitor said that the team is hoping to get 15 to 20 at-bats for Miguel Sano during his rehab assignment at Triple-A Rochester. Sano played right field before injuring his hamstring, but Molitor isn't sure if the slugger will return to right upon his return.
DUFFY STAYING IN ROTATION
Molitor said that struggling starter Tyler Duffy will remain in the rotation and make his next start on Sunday against the Yankees. Duffy has allowed 18 runs and 23 hits in his last three starts.
Byung Ho Park was not in the starting lineup. Molitor said he's looking at Park as more of a situational starter. ''He's been made to understand that we're kind of back to looking for good matchups on a day-to-day basis,'' Molitor said.
SIGN `EM UP
The Phillies announced they have come to terms with a number of top draft picks, including second-rounder Kevin Gowdy, third-rounder Cole Stobbe, fourth-rounder JoJo Romero and 11th-rounder Josh Stephen. Philadelphia signed Mickey Moniak, the top overall pick in the draft, for a $6.1 million signing bonus Monday night. That deal was well under the $9.015 million slot value assigned to the top pick, meaning Philadelphia had more cash to spend on its later picks.
Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff (4-9, 3.49) makes his first career start against Minnesota. He has pitched at least six innings in 12 of his 14 starts.
Twins: RHP Ricky Nolasco (3-4, 4.91) leads the Twins in wins and will attempt to build on a strong outing against the Yankees where he allowed two runs in seven innings.