Batista's slam helps Twins end five-game skid

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- On the same day that the Twins learned their
dream ballpark is on the cusp of becoming a reality, Francisco
Liriano gave Minnesota fans another glimpse of the future on the

Liriano threw five solid innings in his first start of the
season and Tony Batista hit a grand slam to help the Twins snap a
five-game losing streak with a 7-1 victory over the Milwaukee
Brewers on Friday night.

"Every time he takes the mound, it's just electric," said
Twins first baseman Michael Cuddyer, who also helped Liriano's
cause with a solo homer in the sixth. "That poise he shows, he's
in control of himself all the time."

Batista hit his ninth career grand slam in the eighth as part of
a five-run inning. Brewers starter Doug Davis (2-3) had entered the
inning trailing 2-1, but he walked Luis Castillo and allowed a
single to Joe Mauer to put runners on the corners with no out,
ending his night.

Mauer stole second, and after an out, reliever Jose Capellan
intentionally walked Cuddyer.

"We were trying to get out of the inning with one pitch, turn a
double play," Brewers manager Ned Yost said.

But Capellan plunked Lew Ford, scoring Castillo, and Batista hit
the next pitch over the Brewers' bullpen to make it 7-1.

"We were able to put some runs across the board and get a lot
of cushion late with Tony's grand slam," Cuddyer said. "It was
nice for us."

There's something even nicer on the horizon for the Twins, who
had lost the last five games by four runs or less.

Minnesota lawmakers are expected to pass a financing plan for a
$522-million outdoor ballpark for the Twins this weekend. Major
construction would begin next year and the park would open in 2010.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee had been streaking during its nine-game
homestand by winning five of the first six, including a sweep of
the Philadelphia Phillies and three wins in the last at-bat.

But Liriano (2-0), working on a pitch count, allowed just one
run on two hits while walking three and striking out five before
giving way to Matt Guerrier.

"It's not like you can sit on one pitch because he throw his
fastball at 96, 97," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He can
throw that slider just about anytime, and then when he mixes the
changeup in there, I'm sure they were having a tough time."

Liriano was promoted from the bullpen in the hope that he'll
provide much needed stability to the Twins rotation with Kyle Lohse
(2-4, 8.92 ERA) banished to Triple-A and Carlos Silva (2-6, 8.62
ERA) trying to work out his problems in the bullpen.

"We got the win and I feel great," a smiling Liriano said.
"I'm going to do my best, that's the only thing I do, can't help
anything else."

The 22-year-old Dominican left-hander also had an RBI single and
stymied the Brewers bats with a fastball that reached 97 mph in his
final inning.

"He's a kid that they've got a lot of hope in over there,"
Yost said. "You can see why, throwing 97, 98 mph fastball with a
really good breaking ball and a nice changeup. He's going to be a
nice pitcher for them."

The Twins got on the board first when Ford was hit by Davis, who
also walked Batista. After Juan Castro hit into a double play,
Davis only needed to get Liriano out in his first major-league

Davis failed, and Liriano's RBI flare single put Minnesota ahead

"I made a good pitch, he just happened to flare it where we
weren't," Davis said. "That's why it's an unfair game, right?"

The Brewers tied it in the third on Rickie Weeks' sacrifice fly,
but Brady Clark got hung trying to tag up from second for the final

Liriano managed to stay out of more trouble in the fourth and
fifth with the help of double plays, and the Brewers failed to
score with men on second and third with one away in the seventh
after Jesse Crain relieved Dennys Reyes and got the final two outs.

Cuddyer's homer gave the Twins a 2-1 lead.

Game notes
Liriano threw 68 pitches, while Davis threw 117. ... Davis
now has 39 walks this season. ... Twins CF Torii Hunter called a
players' only meeting to discuss the team's problems before the
game. He declined to reveal details, saying that it was "upbeat."
... Minnesota lawmakers are expected to approve a deal for a
$522-million outdoor ballpark for the Twins this weekend. The Twins
have played in the Metrodome since 1982. ... Brewers SS Bill Hall
extended his hitting streak to eight games in the fifth. ... The
Twins now lead the all-time series with the Brewers 192-190.