Twins: Home runs go to waste in loss to Astros
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Houston Astros haven't had a lot of luck when trailing late in games this year. Fortunately for them, Minnesota's relievers haven't been so great holding onto leads recently.
Lance Berkman and Michael Bourn homered and the Astros rallied to beat the Twins 6-5 on Saturday night, winning for the fourth time in 33 games when trailing after six innings.
Earlier in the night, it seemed as if the Twins were well on their way to their third straight victory.
Scott Baker had frustrated the Houston lineup through six innings and took a 3-1 lead into the seventh. And Astros starter Brian Moehler had given up three homers.
But Houston wore down Baker and broke through in the seventh. Then the Astros went to work against the Twins bullpen.
"You'd rather get six runs in the fifth or sixth than six runs in the first," Moehler said. "It's nice to get the runs later in the game."
Hunter Pence keyed the four-run seventh with a one-out double and Ivan Rodriguez chased Baker with an RBI single.
Jason Michaels followed with a run-scoring double off reliever Sean Henn (0-3) and Bourn put the Astros ahead to stay with his second homer of the season.
Berkman's solo shot off Luis Ayala in the eighth made it 6-3.
In the past 7 2-3 innings, the Twins bullpen has given up eight earned runs -- Henn and Ayala account for four of them in only two combined innings.
"It's unfortunate we just fell apart in the bullpen tonight," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Moehler (4-4) evened his record despite giving up a leadoff shot by Brendan Harris, a solo shot by Delmon Young in the second, and Joe Mauer's career-high 14th homer.
"We didn't generate too much," Michael Cuddyer said. "We got three home runs but it was only four hits early in the game. We just couldn't get many guys on base."
Aside from the three homers, Moehler allowed a leadoff double by Harris in the third, and he walked Carlos Gomez in the fifth.
"I don't have a problem giving up home runs as long as I don't walk guys," Moehler said.
Jason Kubel pulled Minnesota to 6-5 in the eighth with a two-run homer off reliever LaTroy Hawkins. The shot snapped a streak of 19 consecutive scoreless innings for the Astros bullpen.
Jose Valverde pitched a scoreless ninth for his fourth save in six chances. The Twins had a final chance after pinch-hitter Jose Morales doubled with two outs, but Joe Crede flied out to deep right to end it.
"We did end up with an opportunity, that's all you can ask for in the ninth," Gardenhire said. "But still a little frustrating when you have a lead and give up a big number in the seventh inning."
Astros manager Cecil Cooper was ejected in the fifth after arguing with plate umpire Jerry Layne on a pitch to Gomez.
"I thought it was a swing and a foul tip," Cooper said. "Umpire said it wasn't. I yelled at him that I thought he was wrong."
The speedy Gomez eventually drew a walk and made a nifty move to steal second after getting hung up between the bases. Gomez baited Berkman to tag him before diving for second, his right hand barely sneaking in past shortstop Miguel Tejada's tag.
E Houston is 2-6 against the AL this season, while the Twins are 8-3 against their NL opponents.
- Twins 2B Nick Punto left in the seventh with bruised ribs. He's day to day.
- Astros RHP Felipe Paulino said he felt "great" after his bullpen session. Paulino has been on the DL with a strained groin. "Pain free for today," he said.
- Gardenhire said RHP Kevin Slowey would be evaluated on Sunday after leaving Friday night's start with tightness in his rib cage. "His side feels just like his arm does after he pitches," Gardenhire said. "Probably have to give him another day." ... Berkman's homer snapped an 0-for-16 slump.