April 11, 2018 / 9:19 PM / a year ago

Kepler's walk-off homer lifts Twins over Astros

EditorsNote: fixes Peacock’s record in second graf

Max Kepler homered twice, including a walk-off blast to right field with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning in the Minnesota Twins’ 9-8 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday at Target Field.

Kepler turned on a 3-2 slider from Astros reliever Brad Peacock (1-1) to clinch the series in the rubber match, but not until the Astros rallied from a seven-run deficit to pull even in the ninth.

After leaving the bases loaded in the seventh inning with a flyout to left field, Astros center fielder George Springer drove home one run — and a second via a throwing error — in the ninth off Twins closer Fernando Rodney (1-0), who blew the save but ultimately got credit for the win.

Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, who went 4-for-6 in his first four-hit game, pulled Houston to within 8-6 with his first home run of the season, a solo shot with one out in the sixth inning.

The Twins (6-4) rocked Astros starter Lance McCullers with a series of hard-hit balls in an eight-run fourth, with Kepler striking the final blow with a blast to right field. McCullers labored throughout with his control, issuing six walks over 3 2/3 innings, with half of that total coming in his final frame of work, including two in succession on eight pitches to open the fourth.

Kepler, Byron Buxton and Joe Mauer all reached via walks against McCullers, and all three came around to score. Shortstop Ehire Adrianza plated Kepler with an RBI single; Buxton followed when Brian Dozier reached on an infield hit. Mauer came home as Eddie Rosario cleared the bases with a triple, pushing the Twins to a 5-1 lead. Three batters later, Kepler hit his second home run on the season and McCullers was gone after throwing 95 pitches, just 48 for strikes.

But Twins starter Kyle Gibson squandered the run support, allowing four of the five batters he faced in the fifth inning to reach base as the Astros (9-4) initiated their comeback. Jose Altuve, Evan Gattis and Max Stassi recorded run-scoring hits, with Gattis greeting reliever Trevor Hildenberger with a two-run single on the first pitch of their confrontation. Gibson departed having allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks with four strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings.

—Field Level Media

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