MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jose Altuve had four hits and two RBIs, Mike Fiers struck out eight over six innings in his bid to retain a spot in Houston’s banged-up rotation, and the major league-leading Astros beat the Minnesota Twins 7-2 on Tuesday night for their sixth straight victory.
Alex Bregman homered and drove in two runs, providing further support for Fiers (2-2) in his best of 10 starts this season.
Fiers fell behind 2-0 in the first when Eddie Rosario drew a bases-loaded walk and Byron Buxton followed with an infield single, but the Astros (37-16) hacked their way back against Twins starter Jose Berrios (3-1).
Bregman hit a sacrifice fly in the third, and Berrios loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth. He gave up only one run thanks to a double play.
But in the fifth, Altuve smashed a line drive at third baseman Ehire Adrianza, who missed with a swipe of his glove as the ball landed in left field for a two-run single and a 4-2 Houston lead.
Berrios gave up five hits and four walks in five innings, the shortest of his four starts this year.
The Twins badly needed Berrios, their budding star who turned 23 three days ago, to deliver a dominant performance or at least go deep into the game. They used their bullpen 12 times over the last two days, with a wince-inducing total of 19 runs allowed in 11 2/3 innings. That included an 11-run outburst by the Astros in the eighth on Monday afternoon that erased an 8-2 lead for the Twins and fueled a 16-8 victory.
According to Elias Sports Bureau research, that was the first time in Astros history that they won after trailing by six runs entering the eighth inning. That’s an astounding span of 56 seasons and 660 games.
The Astros took an 11-game lead in the AL West into the evening, not yet one-third of the way through the schedule. This was their 20th comeback win, which leads the major leagues.
Fiers was headed to the bullpen to make room for Brad Peacock, until Charlie Morton landed on the disabled list. With Joe Musgrove joining Morton and Collin McHugh on the shelf, the Astros have three-fifths of their rotation absent and space anew for Fiers to stay in the starting five.
The AL Central-leading Twins have lost four of their last five games.
Altuve has a hit in all 13 games he’s played at Target Field, going 28 for 57.
Astros: Musgrove (right shoulder discomfort) was placed on the 10-day DL, retroactive to Saturday. He’s eligible to return June 6 and could miss only one turn.
Twins: 3B Miguel Sano, the team leader in batting average, home runs, RBIs and walks, was scratched from the lineup an hour before the game due to illness.
Astros: RHP David Paulino was recalled from Triple-A Fresno to replace Musgrove and make his season debut Wednesday. The 6-foot-7 Paulino, one of the organization’s top prospects, made one start for the Astros last September.
Twins: RHP Hector Santiago (4-3, 4.07 ERA) will pitch the series finale, three days after an emergency 15th-inning appearance in relief when he gave up back-to-back homers in a defeat against Tampa Bay. He also took the loss Friday against the Rays, in his previous start.
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)