Span returns from DL, provides spark for Twins

MILWAUKEE -- The Minnesota Twins probably wouldn't mind hanging around Milwaukee for a few more games. As interleague rivalries go, this one was pretty one-sided.

Denard Span tripled, walked three times and scored three runs in his first game back from the disabled list, and the Twins extended their dominance over the Brewers with a 6-4 victory Thursday.

"I was just pumped up to finally get back on the field," said Span, who had been on the disabled list with an inner ear infection. "My teammates were riding me for the last 2 1/2 weeks for being dizzy."

Joe Crede hit his 11th home run and Scott Baker turned in another strong outing for the Twins, who took two out of three from the Brewers in this week's interleague series and won five out of six for the season.

The Brewers are 5-10 in interleague play, a string of games that highlighted the team's recent pitching problems.

"Facing the American League lineups was a test for our pitching staff," Brewers manager Ken Macha said.

Baker (5-6) went six innings, holding the Brewers scoreless until Casey McGehee and Prince Fielder homered in the sixth. After losing his first four starts of the season, Baker has won his last three decisions and hasn't given up more than three runs in his last five outings.

Baker gave up only two hits in the first five innings before allowing a leadoff walk to Craig Counsell and giving up a two-run homer to McGehee. Fielder hit his 18th homer later in the inning, a solo shot that cut the Twins' lead to 4-3.

What kind of pitch did he hit?

"I have no idea, because I couldn't see," Fielder said.

Brewers batters previously have complained about the shadows at Miller Park during day games -- then again, it didn't really seem to hurt the Twins on Thursday.

Brewers reliever Chris Narveson walked Span to start the seventh, who had been on the disabled list with an ear infection, and gave up a single to Brendan Harris. He was removed in favor of another left-hander, Mitch Stetter.

Span then scored on a passed ball by catcher Jason Kendall, and Mauer bashed a ground-rule double to score Harris, putting the Twins up 6-3.

Ryan Braun hit his 16th home run off Matt Guerrier in the eighth, cutting Minnesota's lead to 2. But Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless ninth for his 17th save.

Milwaukee's Mike Burns (0-1) made his first career start, giving up four runs and six hits over 5 2/3 innings. Burns was called up from Triple-A Nashville to replace Dave Bush, who went on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a micro tear of the right triceps.

Burns walked Span to lead off the game but recovered to retire eight straight.

He got in trouble in the fourth, again walking Span and then allowing an infield hit to Brendan Harris. Had Burns been able to field Harris' tapper up the middle and turn a double play, the game would have looked very different.

"I should have that," Burns said. "The play should have been made."

Instead, Joe Mauer flew out and Justin Morneau hit an RBI single to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. Jason Kubel singled to load the bases with one out, and Burns ran the count full on Michael Cuddyer before walking in a run to put the Twins up 2-0.

Minnesota added a run in the fifth when Span tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Harris.

"On the triple, I almost died because I hadn't played in 2 1/2 weeks," Span said. "So I'm a little out of shape."

Crede then hit a solo home run deep to left-center field in the sixth, giving the Twins a 4-0 lead and chasing Burns from the game.

Game notes
Brewers RHP Braden Looper has a contusion on his right triceps after being hit by a line drive Wednesday night, but is not expected to miss his next start. ... Twins INF Nick Punto returned to Minneapolis and was scheduled to have an MRI on his sore ribs Thursday afternoon. ... Fielder tumbled to the ground in the on-deck circle to avoid a sharp foul ball by Braun in the first. "Good thing I was paying attention halfway," Fielder joked.