After a pair of come-from-behind wins, the Twins try to finish off the visiting Astros on Sunday.
Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson allowed four runs and nine hits in three innings, but four relievers combined to yield one hit and strike out 10 in Saturday's 6-4 victory.
While Twins starters are last in the majors with a 5.19 ERA, their bullpen is second at 2.93. Their relievers have allowed one run and fanned 18 over 17 innings of the last three games.
Minnesota (47-60) might again need to rely on its relief corps if scheduled starter Mike Pelfrey (4-9, 5.31 ERA) is unable to bounce back from a rough performance.
The right-hander had a 2.28 ERA in his first four July starts, but closed the month by allowing four runs in four innings of a 7-2 loss to Kansas City on Tuesday."It looked like he was picking at the plate an awful lot rather than attacking the zone," manager Ron Gardenhire said about Pelfrey, who yielded eight hits and threw 93 pitches. "One thing he's been doing is attacking the zone. Pace of the game means a lot. He kind of put everybody on their heels and he understands that."
Though he has not faced the Astros (36-73) since 2010 while with the New York Mets , Pelfrey has allowed three runs over 22 1-3 innings to win three straight starts against them.
While Minnesota's bullpen has shined, Houston relievers rank last in the majors with a 5.13 ERA. They've allowed six runs, nine hits and walked seven over 7 2-3 innings in the series.
Houston's bullpen has posted a 6.55 ERA and blown eight saves while the team has dropped 24 of 30."This is arguably the toughest stretch which I've witnessed, whether it's as a player, coach, manager, of bullpen woes," first-year manager Bo Porter said.
Peacock, who last pitched in the majors June 8, is 6-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 14 games and 13 starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
"He's thrown the ball extremely well," Porter told the Astros' official website. "That's obviously factored into the decision-making."
The right-hander opened the season in Houston's rotation, but went 1-3 with an 8.44 ERA in five starts before he was moved to the bullpen and sent down to the minors twice.
Peacock has never faced Minnesota.
Twins leadoff hitter Brian Dozier is batting .304 during a 10-game hitting streak.
Houston rookie outfielder Robbie Grossman is 10 for 20 in his last six games.
|July 31, 2013||Brandon Barnes||Day-to-Day||Lower back tightness|
|July 27, 2013||Jose Altuve||Day-to-Day||Left quad tightness|
|July 27, 2013||J.D. Martinez||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|July 23, 2013||Brandon Barnes||Day-to-Day||Left game - mild left calf strain|
|July 09, 2013||Ronny Cedeno||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left toe|
|June 29, 2013||Justin Maxwell||7-Day DL||Mild concussion|
|July 01, 2013||Josh Willingham||15-Day DL||Medial meniscus tear, left knee|
|July 01, 2013||Josh Willingham||Day-to-Day||Left knee soreness|
|June 19, 2013||Mike Pelfrey||15-Day DL||Back strain|
|June 19, 2013||Mike Pelfrey||15-Day DL||Back strain|
|June 11, 2013||Jared Burton||Day-to-Day||Groin injury|
|June 10, 2013||Aaron Hicks||15-Day DL||Left hamstring strain|
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins were happy to complete a sweep, even if it was against the Houston Astros .
Justin Morneau and Oswaldo Arcia homered Sunday as the Twins completed a sweep of the Houston Astros with a 3-2 victory on Sunday.
"We needed these games against these guys," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We're fighting through some of the same things, with all the kids and all those things. We had to win these games."
The Twins hadn't swept a series, or won three games in a row, since June 18-20 against the Chicago White Sox. And although the Astros have baseball's worst record at 36-74 and have now lost 9 of 11 it didn't dampen the Twins' joy over their modest winning streak.
Minnesota started the six-game homestand with three straight losses to the Royals, prompting Gardenhire to call a team meeting then send an additional message with an early-morning workout.
"We couldn't keep playing that way," said right-hander Mike Pelfrey , who labored through five innings Sunday and left with the game tied 2-2.
"I think Gardy was right the other day when he said it seemed like Kansas City might have wanted it a little more. That's frustrating, because we were flat. But we came out and responded. Hopefully we don't have to get an early workout next time to (get us) to play a little better, but whatever it takes to win games. I think we're all here to win; it doesn't always work out as much as it should."
Arcia led off the seventh with a home run that broke a 2-all tie. He connected against Brad Peacock (1-4), who was promoted from Triple-A to make the start and set career highs with 10 strikeouts and seven innings pitched.
The ball bounced off the top of the tall scoreboard in right-center and back into play, but second base umpire Bob Davidson quickly signaled homer.
Caleb Thielbar (2-1) got two outs for the win, and Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for his 27th save.
Morneau hit a two-out, two-run homer in the first inning after Joe Mauer drew a walk off Peacock, who was recalled from Triple A to make the start. It was Morneau's third homer in eight games; he had hit one in his previous 17.
"He misfired on Joe and I got to see some pitches," Morneau said. "I got 2-0 and felt like I had a decent swing and pulled the ball foul, and it's still a hitter's count, and was able to be aggressive. He pitched a great game; he deserved to win that game. But that was one we needed."
The homer gave Pelfrey a head start toward his first victory in nearly a month. But he labored, needing 78 pitches to work himself into and out of trouble through four innings before it caught up with him in the fifth, when he gave up two runs on three hits and a walk.
The right-hander hasn't won since pitching six scoreless innings to win at Toronto on July 6. He's 1-3 since then but has an ERA of 3.35 in five starts. Still, 4-9 with a 5.23 ERA is not what Pelfrey was looking for in his first season back from ligament replacement surgery.
"I look in, get the sign and give it everything I have," Pelfrey said. "I'm just not making pitches."�
NOTES: Twins OF Josh Willingham (knee) went to join Triple-A Rochester in Durham, N.C., for a rehab assignment. He is expected to play four games with the Red Wings and rejoin the Twins for a four-game series against the White Sox, likely as the designated hitter. ... Twins C Wilkin Ramirez (concussion) was sent to Double-A New Britain to continue a rehab assignment.