Minneapolis, MN – Minneapolis, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - Dallas Keuchel tossed six scoreless innings and was backed by three home runs as the Houston Astros edged the Minnesota Twins, 5-4, on Friday in the opener of a three-game set from Target Field.
Marwin Gonzalez and Matt Dominguez hit solo shots and rookie sensation George Springer added a two-run blast for Houston, winners in six consecutive road tilts. Jose Altuve also drove in a run in the triumph.
Keuchel (7-3) went six strong innings, allowing just five hits while striking out six. The 26-year-old lefty has won five of his last six starts.
"That's a good one to win," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "Considering the adversity we had to overcome. They mounted a strong comeback. To hold on to win that game is a tribute to our guys. They did a great job."
Minnesota trailed 5-0 before a late rally nearly forced extra innings. If not for a highlight reel diving catch in center field by Dexter Fowler, who robbed Trevor Plouffe of extra bases. Eduardo Escobar's RBI double to left would have tied the score, rather than make it 5-4.
"We put some decent swings out there and had plenty of chances," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "That play in center field was spectacular. He ran a long way for that ball."
Escobar went 3-for-4, Aaron Hicks had a pair of hits and Danny Santana hit his first major league home run in the setback.
Phil Hughes (6-2), who has been untouchable of late, suffered his first defeat since April 15 after getting roughed up for five runs over six innings.
The game was delayed at the start for an hour and 26 minutes due to rain.
Gonzalez went deep to right off Hughes in the third inning, and Dominguez crushed one to center in the fourth to spot Houston a 2-0 lead.
Fowler's triple to start the sixth inning led to three more runs. Altuve singled Fowler home and Springer followed by lining a no-doubter over the wall in right.
Tony Sipp relieved Keuchel and was greeted by Escobar, who doubled to left and scored on a Hicks two-bagger. Santana made it 5-3, taking a hanging breaking ball over the wall in left. Sipp, who didn't allow a run in 9 2/3 innings in May, has already surrendered four runs in two June outings.
Kurt Suzuki and Escobar hit consecutive doubles with two outs in the eighth to make it 5-4.
Chad Qualls entered in the ninth and retired the first two batters before Joe Mauer reached on a grounder to third that forced Dominguez into a poor throw to first. Mauer stole second, but Josh Willingham flew out to left to end the game and give Qualls his seventh save of the season.
Qualls, who nailed down his sixth straight save, has given up just four hits and no runs since the start of May ... The Twins won last year's season series, including a three-game sweep at Target Field ... Minnesota has lost six of eight at home ... Jason Kubel went 0-for-4 and is hitless in his last 26 at-bats.