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Updated: June 15th, 2012 10:13pm
Plouffe's surge continues, but Maldonado's late HR beats Capps, Twins

Plouffe's surge continues, but Maldonado's late HR beats Capps, Twins

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Martin Maldonado's ninth-inning home run off Matt Capps stole Trevor Plouffe's thunder in a 5-3 win by the Milwaukee Brewers over the Minnesota Twins.

The skinny

Francisco Liriano flirted with a no-hitter, and Plouffe continued his unconscious power surge. But in the end, a two-run homer by Maldonado off Capps with two outs in the top of the ninth inning gave the Brewers a victory.

Plouffe, on his 26th birthday, blasted two solo home runs deep into the left-field seats -- one in the fifth inning to give the Twins a 1-0 lead, and another in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game 3-3.

Plouffe now has 14 home runs on the season, which takes over the team lead from Josh Willingham. Ten of those home runs have come in Plouffe's last 14 games.

On May 18, Plouffe was hitting .135/.264/.284. He finished Friday's game hitting .240/.311/.575. Entering Friday's games only 13 hitters across both leagues had slugging percentages higher than .570.

Francisco Liriano took a no-hitter and a 2-0 lead into the top of the sixth inning, but Ryan Braun wiped away everything with a three-run homer.

"Honestly, (I was) just hoping not to strike out," Braun said. "His stuff was so good tonight. I think he's truly one of the best lefties in the game when he's commanding his pitches, and he was on top of his game tonight. ...

"He's got no-hitter stuff almost at all times. It's just a matter for him of command, and when he's commanding his changeup and slider he's really difficult. So you inow you're not going to get too many opportunities."

Liriano was charged with three runs on one hit in six innings. He struck out six, walked four and threw 104 pitches.

For a while Liriano's high-pitch-count no-hitter bid was reminiscent of Kevin Slowey's outing on August 15, 2010 when he held the A's hitless through seven innings. The decision was made to take Slowey out of the game because he had thrown 106 pitches after missing his previous start due to a tender elbow.

Turning point

Maldonado's home run came with two strikes on a 93-mph four-seam fastball thrown by Capps.

Corey Hart led off the inning with a ground-rule double down the right-field line, but Capps was able to retire Rickie Weeks on a pop-up and Taylor Green on a strikeout.

"Cappie just got a pitch up," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I don't know where he was trying to go with the ball, inside, outside, but he got it out and over the plate and the guy belted it."

Capps said, "I felt good with my slider. In hindsight I should have thrown another one there, back-to-back sliders. I have to get the heater down. I get it down it's a groundball to short."

Numbers game

1: Multi-homer games for Plouffe in his career.

2: Walks drawn by Carlos Gomez off Liriano. Gomez entered the game with only four walks.

4: Strikeouts by Ryan Doumit.

Health report

1B Justin Morneau sat out with left forearm soreness. Gardenhire said the issue is not considered serious.

On deck

Saturday: vs. Brewers, 1:10 p.m. RHP Liam Hendriks (0-2, 9.00) vs. RHP Mike Fiers (1-2, 4.50)
Sunday: vs. Brewers, 1:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (3-4, 7.68) vs. RHP Zach Greinke (7-2, 2.96)
Monday: Off day

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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