The Twins will try to close out an impressive offensive series with another win in Houston on Wednesday.
Minnesota (61-76) opened the set with a 10-6 win Monday, tying a season high with four homers including a ninth-inning grand slam courtesy of Chris Colabello . The Twins nearly squandered Tuesday's game after All-Star Glen Perkins blew his fourth save, but they closed out a 9-6 win in 12 innings with Clete Thomas scoring the go-ahead run on a wild pitch and Darin Mastroianni tacking on a two-run double.
The Twins already swept Houston at home from Aug. 2-4. Their only other sweep of at least three games was against the Chicago White Sox from June 18-20.
Trevor Plouffe was 4 for 6 on Tuesday, hitting his 14th home run and extending his hitting streak to eight games. He's batting .328 over his last 16 contests with seven doubles and homers in each of his last two.
Brian Dozier also homered and owns a .917 on-base plus slugging over his last 28 games with eight homers and 20 RBIs.
The Twins rank near the bottom of the AL with 133 homers but have recorded nine in their last five games.
That could mean trouble for Houston scheduled starter Jordan Lyles (6-7, 5.12 ERA). He is 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA over his last three starts but has also allowed five homers over his last 13 1-3 innings.
He limited Seattle to four hits and three runs over six innings of a 3-2 loss on Thursday, but all runs came on two homers.
"The stuff wasn't there throughout the game," Lyles said. "They put some really good swings on some pitches. My ball wasn't getting that downward action like I am used to, and a good offensive team will make you pay."
For Minnesota, Liam Hendriks (1-2, 5.13) likely comes in feeling confident after notching his second career win. It came almost a year after the first as he limited Texas to two runs - one earned - and five hits over six innings in a 3-2 road victory on Friday. He pitched opposite Yu Darvish , who had a no-hitter through six innings and fanned 11 batters.
"I don't care who it's against," Hendriks told the team's official website. "I just want to pile them up a little bit. But it was a big thing for my confidence. I relied pretty much solely on my sinker and my slider, and it paid off."
With All-Star Jason Castro day-to-day after spraining his right knee Monday, Houston went with Cody Clark behind the plate Tuesday. Clark was 0 for 4 and still seeks his first major league hit after 17 unsuccessful at-bats with seven strikeouts in his first six games. The Astros could also use Matt Pagnozzi after acquiring him from Atlanta for cash considerations.
Neither starting pitcher has faced the opposing team, though Presley is 4 for 11 off Lyles with a homer and a triple.
|August 30, 2013||Samuel Deduno||15-Day DL||Right shoulder soreness|
|August 30, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||15-Day DL||Fractured left tibia|
|August 29, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left shin injury|
|August 20, 2013||Joe Mauer||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 16, 2013||Oswaldo Arcia||Day-to-Day||Sore wrist|
|August 08, 2013||Ryan Doumit||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|September 02, 2013||Jason Castro||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right knee sprain|
|August 22, 2013||Max Stassi||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 21, 2013||Max Stassi||Day-to-Day||Left game - head|
|August 20, 2013||Carlos Corporan||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 07, 2013||Jonathan Villar||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained hand|
|July 31, 2013||Brandon Barnes||Day-to-Day||Lower back tightness|
HOUSTON (AP) -- A day after Jonathan Villar was yanked from a game because of a baserunning blunder, the 22-year-old rookie got a perfect chance to redeem himself.
Villar scored the winning run on Trevor Crowe 's single in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Houston Astros beat the Minnesota Twins 6-5 on Wednesday.
Villar singled to start the ninth and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jose Altuve . Crowe's line drive to left field off Brian Duensing (6-2) allowed the speedy Villar to score easily, giving Houston its first win in six tries against Minnesota.
Manager Bo Porter took Villar out of Tuesday night's game after he was thrown out trying to stretch a leadoff single into a double in the third inning. Porter spoke to him afterward about the importance of being smart on the bases.
They had a much more positive talk after Wednesday's game.
"I went over and I gave him a hug and told him, 'I'm very proud of you,'" Porter said. "That's maturity ... a lot of guys would hang their head and say, 'Poor old me, I got taken out of the game.' He didn't handle it that way at all."
"I really felt like he was going to handle it the right way and he came out today and literally showed that he handled it the right way," Porter continued.
Villar understood why he got in trouble, but doesn't plan on stifling his aggression on the bases.
"I told him I was going to keep playing my game," said Villar, whose comments were translated by a reporter who spoke Spanish. "Despite what happened yesterday, he likes for me to play aggressively. He likes me to play aggressively, so that's how I'll play. That's how I'll always play because that's my style of play."
Duensing was unhappy that he wasn't able to hold off the Astros.
"I just didn't execute right there at the end, and they did what they were supposed to," he said.
Ryan Doumit 's leadoff home run in the ninth against Astros reliever Erik Bedard (4-10) tied it at 5.
"We had chances, but there at the end, they just got it done," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They got the big hit, and (Duensing) just didn't make a good pitch there."
Crowe, who also drove in a run in the fourth, has seven hits in four games since returning from Triple-A.
"It's definitely a good start," he said. "I owe a lot of credit to Bo, I was in a good rhythm and he put me right in the lineup and I feel like I'm still in that rhythm."
Minnesota was down 3-0 after a three-run first inning by the Astros before tying it on a three-run shot by Alex Presley in the third. It was Presley's first homer since being acquired from Pittsburgh in the trade for Justin Morneau .
Pedro Florimon doubled to open the eighth and scored on a groundout by Darin Mastroianni as the Twins closed to 5-4.
Before tying it, Minnesota squandered a chance in the seventh when Chris Herrmann grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
Brandon Barnes had two RBIs and Chris Carter and Brett Wallace added two hits apiece for Houston.
Minnesota starter Liam Hendriks yielded eight hits and five runs in 4 1-3 innings, leaving him with just one win in six starts this season.
Houston starter Jordan Lyles allowed four hits and three runs in 6 1-3 innings.
An RBI double by Wallace put Houston up 1-0 in the first inning. Carter walked before Wallace barely scored on a single by Marc Krauss and make it 2-0, and Barnes added a sacrifice fly.
Presley came out on top of a 13-pitch at-bat in the third, coming back from an 0-2 count before hitting a tying home run to right field.
Jose Altuve doubled with two outs in the fourth and scored on Crowe's single for a 4-3 lead.
Carter led off the fifth with a single, then the 6-foot-4, 245-pound slugger took second on his second steal this season. Barnes' single off reliever Ryan Pressly pushed Houston's lead to 5-3.
NOTES: Krauss was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday and was Houston's designated hitter. ... The Twins are off on Thursday before opening a 10-game homestand with a three-game series against Toronto. ... The Astros open a four-game series with Oakland on Thursday when Houston's Brad Peacock opposes Sonny Gray . ... Minnesota All-Star C Joe Mauer , who has missed 16 games after sustaining a concussion, is scheduled to take batting practice at Target Field on Wednesday ... Astros All-Star C Jason Castro was out of the lineup for the second straight game after spraining his right knee on Monday. Porter said he is still sore and that he isn't sure when he'll return. ... Astros 3B Matt Dominguez also missed a second consecutive game because of a stomach illness.