ANAHEIM -- The Twins received back-to-back homers from James Dozier and Max Kepler to come back to tie the game in the sixth inning, but they couldn't weather another rough start from Jose Berrios in a 7-4 loss to the Angels on Thursday night at Angel Stadium. It snapped a five-game win streak for Minnesota.
Berrios has scuffled since the Puerto Rico series in mid-April and had trouble against a tough Angels lineup, allowing five runs on seven hits and a walk over 5 1/3 innings. Since posting a 1.63 ERA through his first four starts of the year, Berrios has struggled over his last four starts with an 8.84 ERA, 11 strikeouts, eight walks and six homers allowed in 18 1/3 innings.
"It was nice to come back -- we kept talking about trying to put together one big inning," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We didn't have much going on, until Dozier on the hanging breaking ball and the home run from Kepler. But Jose, I thought, was having a tough night. His breaking ball, he seemed afraid to use it after hanging it a couple times."
Berrios attributed his four-start slump to a lack of feel for his curveball, as he threw it 17 times on Thursday, but he didn't get a single swinging strike with it. He served up two homers, and both came on curves that hung over the plate, instead of having his signature sharp lateral break.
"It's not been the curveball I've been accustomed to throwing," Berrios said through an interpreter. "It just hasn't been working out recently. It's something I have to keep learning. When it's on, it's on, but over my last four starts, I haven't been able to throw it over the plate like I'm used to. I'm just going to keep working on it."
It was evident from the start that Berrios didn't have his best command, as he hit the first batter he faced and walked the second, but he got out of the first unscathed. He wasn't as fortunate in the second, giving up a two-run shot to Ian Kinsler on a hanging curveball. He threw another hanging breaking ball to Justin Upton in the third resulting in a solo homer, before Jose Pujols and Shohei Ohtani connected on back-to-back doubles to give the Angels a 4-0 lead.
The Twins had only two hits through five innings, but broke out for a four-run sixth to tie the game. Dozier connected on a three-run homer off right-hander Garrett Richards, after an infield single from Ehire Adrianza and a hit-and-run single from Joe Mauer. The Angels went to left-hander Jose Alvarez to face Kepler, who shook off getting hit by a 92.4-mph fastball from Alvarez on his left hand on what was ruled a strike to homer on the next pitch to tie the game. It was the second time this season -- and the second time in the past week -- the Twins hit back-to-back homers.
But Berrios came back out for the sixth and gave up a one-out single from Andrelton Simmons that chased him. Reliever Thomas Pressly gave up a single to Kinsler and threw a wild pitch, setting up a go-ahead sacrifice fly from Kole Calhoun before Martin Maldonado ripped an RBI double to give the Angels a two-run lead. Ohtani stretched it to 7-4 with a solo shot off Trevor Hildenberger in the seventh.
"Berrios did a nice job of trying to hold it down after holding it to four, but we had him on a short leash at that point," Molitor said. "So we turned it over. Kinsler got the hit on the curveball, a wild pitch, Calhoun and then Maldonado turned on a slider over the middle. That's all it took."
The four-hit game was the third of Dozier's career, as he also had four hits against the White Sox twice, on May 3, 2015, and Aug. 30, 2017. He came into the game hitting .127 (8-for-63) over his previous 15 games.
HE SAID IT
"I'm confident. I know who I am as Jose Berrios. I work hard every day to try to help the team win. That's the game. You're going to have rough outings, rough two or three innings, but you have to keep moving forward and do your job." -- Berrios, who switched to speaking in English when asked about his confidence level
Right-hander Lance Lynn (1-3, 7.28 ERA) will be looking to build off his best start of the season when he takes the mound against the Angels in the second game of the four-game set on Friday at 9:07 p.m. CT at Angel Stadium. Lynn picked up his first win with the Twins in his last outing, allowing two runs over six innings against the White Sox last Saturday. Lefty Tyler Skaggs (3-2, 3.08 ERA) starts for the Angels.