MINNEAPOLIS -- Too many things went against the Milwaukee Brewers for them to emerge victorious Wednesday night.
A huge home run for the opponent that ricocheted off the foul pole instead of hooking wide.
Borderline pitches that an umpire kept calling balls instead of strikes.
A left-handed hitter whacking a Will Smith slider that has been mostly unhittable for lefties all season.
Add it all up, and the result was a 6-4 interleague loss to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field that left a decidedly bad taste in the mouths of the Brewers.
"It sucks the way this game turned out," said Brewers starting pitcher Marco Estrada. "If we would have won, it would have been a different story. You would let that stuff go. It's a little harder when we lose."
Estrada's frustrations were easy to understand. He breezed through the first three innings, only to allow a three-run homer to Oswaldo Arcia -- a blast down the right-field line that struck the foul pole.
It was the 18th homer allowed by Estrada, most in the majors.
"I was trying to go up and in and left it about belt-high," said Estrada. "You can't make mistakes like that. I needed the ball a lot higher than that. It wasn't in the right spot, and he hit it far."
The next inning tested Estrada's emotions even more. After hitting Brian Dozier with a pitch to put two on with one out, he issued consecutive walks to Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham to force in a run that put the Twins on top, 4-1.
The last two pitches to Willingham, in particular, were good enough to be called strikes, according to Estrada and others in the visiting clubhouse. But umpire Andy Fletcher, who had Brewers manager Ron Roenicke in his face more than once, called both balls.
"It was frustrating," said Estrada. "Maybe at times I let it get to me. I asked him if it was close and he just gave me a complete 'ball.' There's nothing you can do about it. You still have to make your pitches.
"You can't let stuff like that affect you. But, obviously, in tough situations like that, you feel like you made a perfect pitch and it didn't go your way. It's unfortunate."
Asked what he thought of Fletcher's strike zone, particularly in the Willingham at-bat, Roenicke said, "The 3-2 pitch was a strike. I probably should have gone out there. It was a strike."
Minnesota's 4-1 lead was wiped out in one swing of the bat in the seventh inning when Aramis Ramirez, back in the lineup after missing three weeks with a hamstring strain, blasted a three-run homer to center. Twins starter Ricky Nolasco had retired 13 hitters in a row before Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez singled to set up Ramirez's big blow.
"I felt good," said Ramirez, who served as the DH to ease back into play. "I got my four at-bats and everything went well. That's what I'm here for -- to drive in runs and help the team. It didn't work out tonight."
It didn't work out because the Twins came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning, a rally started by Willingham's two-out double off Rob Wooten. With the left-handed-hitting Arcia up, Roenicke made the obvious move to Smith, who has chewed up lefties with his slider all season.
Left-handed batters were hitting .121 against Smith with 18 strikeouts in 33 at-bats, but the bullpen sensation caught too much of the plate with a two-strike slider, and Arcia lined it to left for an RBI single for the decisive run and later scored.
"I wanted it further away, down in the dirt," said Smith, who had allowed one earned run all season, on April 29 in St. Louis. "You can't make a perfect pitch every time. We had the momentum on our side. It stinks to give it up."
And so it went for the Brewers, who have lost two in a row to the mediocre Twins by the same score in different cities.
"You can't expect the guy to be perfect," Roenicke said of Smith. "He has thrown the ball great and he'll continue to throw the ball great. He just left a slider up a little bit, and Arcia did a nice job of hitting. Against Will Smith, not many left-handers are going to hit his breaking ball.
"With our pitching and where it is, we need to score some runs and hold on and get some wins. I think our pitching is going to keep us in games."
(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Visit the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at www.jsonline.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services