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Gibson scuffles in Border Battle opener

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Gibson has become a much more consistent pitcher since the second half of last year, but it was clear he didn't have his best command against the Brewers on Friday night.

Gibson saw his streak of allowing three runs or fewer snapped at four starts, as he scuffled through 5 1/3 innings in an 8-3 loss to Milwaukee in the first game of the Border Battle between the two Interleague rivals. Gibson, who entered with a 3.50 ERA over his last 19 starts dating back to Aug. 1, tied a season-worst by allowing five runs on eight hits and four walks with five strikeouts.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Gibson has become a much more consistent pitcher since the second half of last year, but it was clear he didn't have his best command against the Brewers on Friday night.

Gibson saw his streak of allowing three runs or fewer snapped at four starts, as he scuffled through 5 1/3 innings in an 8-3 loss to Milwaukee in the first game of the Border Battle between the two Interleague rivals. Gibson, who entered with a 3.50 ERA over his last 19 starts dating back to Aug. 1, tied a season-worst by allowing five runs on eight hits and four walks with five strikeouts.

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"It was a little frustrating," Gibson said. "Had command going in and out. But really a couple of walks and here and there and the two home-run pitches and it's a completely different outing."

Gibson had allowed just two homers in eight starts this season, but was hurt by a solo homer from Ji-Man Choi in the second and a two-run shot from Jesus Aguilar in the third. He also gave up a run on a bloop single from Christian Yelich in the third and a run-scoring double play from Orlando Arcia in the fourth. He at least helped the bullpen by pitching into the sixth, but walked the last batter he faced before coming out for reliever Trevor Hildenberger.

Video: MIL@MIN: Gibson rings up Santana to start the 2nd

"Unfortunately, the home runs got to me tonight," Gibson said. "I've been doing a better job this year trying to avoid those and keep the ball in the park and story of the night is home runs and walks."

Gibson didn't get much help from his offense, as the Twins were held in check by lefty Brent Suter, who entered with a 5.14 ERA but surrendered just one run on five hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings. The Twins didn't score until the sixth on a sacrifice fly from Max Kepler to score Eddie Rosario, who doubled with one out.

"We didn't do much offensively," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "The cutter was really eating up our right-handers. Our left-handers had better at-bats overall. Just kind of a lopsided game."

After Kepler's sacrifice fly, the Brewers got the run right back with Aguilar's second homer of the game, a solo shot off the left-field foul pole off Hildenberger. Milwaukee added another run in the eighth on an RBI ground-rule double from Lorenzo Cain off reliever Matt Magill. The insurance runs came in handy for the Brewers, as Kepler launched a two-run homer in the eighth off lefty reliever Boone Logan. He also nearly homered on his double off the wall against Suter in the second.

"Kepler had a couple that just missed home runs," Suter said. "He's been a tough out for me since 2014, playing him in Double-A. He's just a really good hitter so you have to tip your cap sometimes. We've had some good battles. Other than that, I felt like I was in control pretty well."

Video: MIL@MIN: Kepler gets Twins on the board with sac fly

MAUER EXITS EARLY
Twins first baseman Joe Mauer left the game in the fifth with neck stiffness and was replaced by pinch-hitter Logan Morrison. Mauer was 0-for-2 with two groundouts to second before coming out of the game. Mauer is hitting .283/.404/.355 with a homer, seven doubles and 11 RBIs in 38 games this season.

"I'd like to be in the lineup tomorrow to be honest but it might take a day or two," Mauer said. "Nothing more than that. I just think I need to let it calm down." More >

Video: MIL@MIN: Mauer on leaving the game with neck injury

SOUND SMART
Kepler, who went 2-for-2 with a walk, is hitting .343 with three homers, five doubles and eight RBIs in 40 plate appearances against lefties this year after batting .152 with two homers, three doubles and 12 RBIs in 137 plate appearances against southpaws last season. He also struck out 40 times against lefties in '17, but only five times in '18.

"I told him after the homer he had four good at-bats tonight," Molitor said. "Kep just missed three homers. The first one missed by a couple inches and he pulled that one foul that he hit fairly well. He's been really making progress on his ability to hit lefties. I think he kind of took that as a mission upon himself and so far he's done well."

HE SAID IT
"It's kind of been a thorn in our side, the ability to get runners in from third with less than two outs. I'm not sure what the numbers are but it seems that we've missed a lot of opportunities." -- Molitor, on the Twins failing to score in the second with two runners in scoring position and nobody out. Minnesota is hitting .240 with runners in scoring position this year, which is tied for 18th in the Majors.

UP NEXT
Rookie right-hander Fernando Romero (2-0, 0.54 ERA) will look to build on his impressive start to his career when he takes the mound against the Brewers at Target Field on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Romero allowed one run over five innings against the Angels his last time out. Right-hander Freddy Peralta (1-0. 0.00 ERA) starts for Milwaukee.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins