"Much like they capitalized on our mistakes yesterday," Brewers manager Ken Macha said, "we were fortunate to capitalize on theirs today."
It happened in a hurry.
Until their quick rally in the eighth, the Brewers had mostly been silenced by Twins starter Nick Blackburn (6-3), who had limited the damage to two runs on nine hits through the first seven innings and was working with a 3-2 lead. He retired the first two hitters in the eighth before J.J. Hardy blooped a single, and Kendall followed with a drive that struck high off the left-center-field wall.
Judging from the reaction in the stands, many fans thought the ball was headed into the Brewers' bullpen. The self-deprecating Kendall thought otherwise.
"I don't hit enough home runs to think they're ever going out," Kendall said. "I knew it was going to be in the gap, so J.J. was going to score."
Hardy did indeed score on the play when shortstop Brendan Harris' throw was wide of home plate and bounced away from the catcher. Kendall saw it get away, and broke for third as Blackburn gathered the baseball and overthrew to third base. The ball sailed into left field.
The misfire allowed Kendall to jog home with the winning run.
Harris and Blackburn were each charged with errors on the play. Brewers reliever Todd Coffey (3-1) picked up the win after a scoreless eighth inning and Trevor Hoffman, who would have pitched the ninth inning even if the Brewers were trailing, worked around a walk for his 17th save.
"You make your own breaks," Macha said. "If you're satisfied with a double and you're standing on second, they don't have to make that throw. ... I thought we made our own breaks by Kendall hustling. That's the way you should play. Break a losing streak, win a game, continue a winning streak, you have to keep playing the game that way."
Macha held a brief -- and rare -- clubhouse meeting following Tuesday's 7-3 loss to drive some of those points home.
Judging by the way they played Wednesday, the Brewers might have taken the message to heart. Mike Cameron doubled and scored in the second inning and again in the sixth, and Kendall finished with two hits and two RBIs as the Brewers rallied to let starter Braden Looper off the hook for a loss.
Looper surrendered three runs in six innings but got one run back when he hit an RBI single with two outs in the second off Blackburn. Looper worked into a full count before grounding a base hit through the hole between shortstop and third base to tie the game at 1.
He survived a scare in the fifth, when he was struck by a Carlos Gomez line drive. The baseball struck Looper on the back of his right arm and caromed to first baseman Prince Fielder for a diving catch. Looper remained in the game.
It was strangely similar to June 4 in Florida, when fellow right-hander Dave Bush was struck by a Hanley Ramirez line drive a few inches lower on his right triceps. Bush was placed on the disabled list this week with micro-tearing of the muscle.
Looper was certain that he would avoid a similar fate because the ball struck what he described as the "belly" of his triceps.
"I'm sure it will be a little bit sore tomorrow," Looper said. "It didn't affect me at all. ... They looked at it and the strength is there. It hit me high on the triceps so I'm sure it will be a pretty bruised, but it really doesn't feel bad."
Macha was much more concerned, given the experience with Bush.
"[The training staff] told me that he's absolutely fine, so I even reiterated I lost one guy already, I don't need to lose another one," said Macha. "Hopefully he'll get all iced up and be OK."
Looper has been hit before. He was rehabbing a rib-cage injury this spring when he was struck on the back of the head, near his right ear, by a line drive in a Minor League intrasquad game.
"It's kind of part of it," he said. "I don't land in the best fielding position, and it's one of those things you have to sacrifice."
Still, it was a scary moment.
"It's dangerous out there," Bush said.
Looper survived the scare to meet the definition of a quality start: six innings with three earned runs. The Brewers led the Majors with 25 quality starts in their first 39 games but have struggled in that category since. Looper's outing against the Twins was the team's ninth quality start in its last 32 games.
"I felt pretty good about the way I threw the ball," Looper said. "I came into it wanting to be more aggressive, wanting to establish my game plan. I think I did that."
"I would say the intensity level tonight was way up there," Macha said. "I thought Looper went out there with tremendous determination. I thought his fastball was as good as it's been this year."
Twins outfielder Jason Kubel touched Looper for a solo home run in the sixth, when he pounded a cut fastball to the right-field seats. Michael Cuddyer and Joe Crede followed with consecutive doubles for a 3-1 lead, but the Brewers got one run back in the sixth on Kendall's RBI single before taking over the lead in the eighth.
"That's a good baseball team over there," Kendall said of the Twins. "They know how to do things the right way. They pitch good. They throw strikes, everyone on their starting staff. ... We'll go out and try to get them tomorrow."