Altuve, Mancini HR; Valdez, Astros hand Twins 5th straight L
HOUSTON (AP) — Jose Altuve hit a leadoff homer and Trey Mancini added a two-run shot to back up another quality start by Framber Valdez, and the Houston Astros held on for a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.
The Twins lost their fifth in a row.
Valdez (13-4) allowed two hits and one run with eight strikeouts in seven innings for his 21st consecutive quality start. That moved him past Mike Scott (20) for the longest streak in franchise history. It’s the longest such streak in the majors since Jacob deGrom made 26 in a row from May 18, 2018-April 3, 2019.
“Framber was awesome,” manager Dusty Baker said. “And he’s just getting more and more focused every time out there. He gave us the things that we needed and he gave us the victory that we all wanted.”
The Twins’ hitters struggled for a second straight game., managing just two hits in the first eight innings a night after being no-hit by Justin Verlander through six innings of a 4-2 loss.
Down 5-1, Minnesota tried to rally in the ninth. Gio Urshela singled and scored on a double by Luis Arráez that was misplayed for an error by left fielder Mauricio Dubón.
Rafael Montero then walked pinch-hitter Nick Gordon before the Twins scored another run when pinch-hitter Jake Cave reached on a grounder to second that Altuve couldn’t handle. But Max Kepler lined into a double play and pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez grounded out to end it.
Despite their recent struggles, Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli remains impressed with the way his team has been working.
“Playing hard and playing good are two different things,” Baldelli said. “And our guys absolutely do things exactly the way I want to see it done. And they care and they give it everything they have.”
Altuve put the Astros up early when he sent the first pitch from Dylan Bundy (7-6) into the seats in left field to make it 1-0.
Sandy Leon walked to start the Twins third, Jorge Polanco doubled and Carlos Correa had a sacrifice fly.
Martín Maldonado doubled to open Houston’s third before advancing to third on a single by Altuve, who was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. The Astros regained the lead when Yuli Gurriel had a sacrifice fly.
Yordan Alvarez hit a double with one out in the Houston sixth on a ball that left fielder Tim Beckham deflected on a failed attempt at a diving catch. A wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by Alex Bregman made it 3-1.
Kyle Tucker then extended his hitting streak to a career-best 16 games with a double and Mancini made it 5-1 with his shot to the seats in right field.
Mancini has five homers and 13 RBIs in 17 games since being traded from the Orioles.
“I feel like I’m settled in well and fit in pretty well,” Mancini said. “And I’ve really, really enjoyed these few weeks here.”
Twins: RHP Cole Sands was placed on the injured list after taking a line drive off his right elbow Tuesday. ... LHP Devin Smeltzer was recalled from Triple-A St. Paul to take his spot on the roster.
Astros: Closer Ryan Pressly was not available for a second straight game because of neck stiffness. ... CF Chas McCormick left the game in the seventh inning with an injured right pinky after sliding back on a pickoff attempt. Baker said he dislocated the finger and a doctor put it back in place.
Minnesota’s Chris Archer (2-6, 4.02 ERA) opposes Luis Garcia (10-8, 4.09) when the series wraps up Thursday night.
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