MINNEAPOLIS -- Nobody wants to be no-hit, the Brewers have been telling us since they were on the wrong end of Justin Verlander's gem in Detroit. Maybe it's time to amend that cliché, because from the look of it, Tuesday's no-hitter might have been just the spark Milwaukee's formerly slumping offense needed. Geoff Jenkins hit a grand slam as part of a 15-hit attack on Friday and the Brewers cruised to their first three-game winning streak in more than a month, beating the Twins, 11-3, at the Metrodome.
Since Verlander's no-no, which Jenkins termed "Baseball Stars-esque" in a nod to the old Nintendo favorite, the Brewers' offense has produced 39 hits in three games. "I'm sure there's a little something to that," said Brewers manager Ned Yost, who then struggled mightily to explain what that "something" was. "I don't know what you call it," he said. "I really don't. But there's been a different feel from that point. I don't think it re-focused them, I just think they came back the next day and battled it out and got a win, and all of a sudden some confidence grew out of that." Equally important for the Brewers on Friday were the three perfect relief innings from left-hander Brian Shouse, who was rewarded with his first save of the season and spared an already-overworked bullpen further strain. But it was difficult to overlook the offense, which produced 11 hits in a comeback win over the Tigers at Comerica Park on Wednesday, 13 in Thursday's series finale win and 15 more on Friday. Prince Fielder hit his National League-leading 24th home run -- a two-run shot -- and Bill Hall delivered a two-run double on Friday as the Brewers scored in double-digits for the first time since a 12-3 win over the Mets at Shea Stadium on May 12. The team has won three in a row for the first time since a six-game winning streak from May 4-9. "We just saw the best that day and admitted that," said Fielder, referring to Verlander. "Maybe it just relaxed us to realize it was nothing we could control. We were trying to break up the no-hitter, but you couldn't control it. It was his day to do it. We finally realized that getting mad about things doesn't change anything. It only makes it worse." Added Hall: "When a guy throws a no-hitter against you, you want to come out and show you can hit a little bit." Winning pitcher Claudio Vargas (5-1) and the Brewers were in a 1-0 hole when Jenkins connected against Twins starter Scott Baker (1-2) with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth inning. His homer barely cleared the "baggie" in right field for Jenkins' first grand slam since Sept. 2, 2005. "It's been a long time since we had a win like that," Yost said. With their bullpen battered after a series in Detroit and no available "long man," the Brewers needed innings from Vargas and he delivered only six. The right-hander hasn't pitched into the seventh inning in any of his 12 starts, but the Brewers are 10-2 in those games. Vargas threw six quality innings, though. He surrendered solo home runs to Jason Kubel in the fifth inning and Justin Morneau in the sixth, but limited the Twins to three runs, two earned, on five hits. He walked two batters and struck out five.
"He got to the point where he started to labor a little bit," Yost said.Enter Shouse, who retired all nine batters he faced without a batted ball leaving the infield. Shouse recorded an assist on four of those nine outs. "Not bad for the old guy," Jenkins joked. But seriously, it allowed Yost to avoid using the rest of his relievers, particularly right-hander Jose Capellan, a candidate to pitch multiple innings should that be needed Saturday or Sunday. The Brewers are trying to avoid using recently promoted right-hander Yovani Gallardo in relief so Gallardo could start Monday against the Giants. Shouse said he could not remember a three-inning stint since he worked a career-high 3 1/3 innings for the Rangers, against the Yankees, in August 2003. "I was getting tired at the end. I was slowing down, huffing and puffing a little bit," Shouse said. "We've got everybody fresh now for tomorrow. It was nice to give them a little time off. Maybe I'll get tomorrow off." The Brewers' offense will look to stay on. "This team is resilient and everybody is confident," Jenkins said. "We know we can play good baseball. We put [the no-hitter] behind us and moved on."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.