It wasn’t pretty, but rookie reliever John Axford helped the Milwaukee Brewers close out a 4-3 victory against the Minnesota Twins to avoid a series sweep.

Axford was called upon in the ninth because Carlos Villanueva pitched two innings in Saturday’s extra innings game.

Axford got into trouble early when Orlando Hudson hit a lead-off double but was able to strike out Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer.

Then Delmon Young hit a seeing-eye single up the middle. Jim Thome pinch-hit for Brendan Harris and was walked to load the bases.

This brought up rookie shortstop, Trevor Plouffe, who was in for the injured J.J. Hardy. Plouffe ended up striking out and Axford had his first save.

An interesting sub-plot was that Trevor Hoffman came on in the eighth inning to set-up Axford and looked like a completely different pitcher.

Pitching coach Rick Peterson must have seen something in Hoffman’s delivery, because he was fooling batters and throwing strikes. He had a clean one-two-three inning and looks like he is coming back to form.

It should be just a matter of time until Hoffman gets back into his groove as the closer. If Peterson has truly fixed the problem then he deserves another shot, but it will take at least a few more clean appearances for him to regain the closer’s job.

Corey Hart continued his power surge with his ninth homer and Prince Fielder continued to heat up at the plate and crushed his seventh of the year. Rookie Marco Estrada, Zach Braddock, and Manny Parra helped the struggling pitching staff hold the Twins to two runs over the first seven innings and may have saved Ken Macha’s job for now.

Their next series is against the struggling Houston Astros, and the Brewers need to sweep them in order to get things going again. We’ll see what happens but this victory was crucial and the pitching staff gets a much needed off day today.

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