Buxton, Farmer hit three-run homers as Twins beat Astros 9-6

Byron Buxton and Kyle Farmer hit three-run homers to lift the Minnesota Twins past the Houston Astros 9-6 on Saturday.

Christian Vazquez had two RBI singles, Trevor Larnach had two hits and an RBI and Joe Ryan (2-0) rallied from Yordan Alvarez’s grand slam to win his second straight start.

The defending champion Astros were hitless in seven of nine innings and fell to 3-6. The Twins, who lost all six games to the Astros last season by a combined 36-11, improved to 6-2.

Jeremy Pena shook up his losing streak and the Astros’ trailing lineup with a two-run homer in the ninth off Jovani Moran, who left two on base for Jhoan Duran to clean up the mess. Durán retired Yainer Díaz, the tying run, with a strikeout for his second save.

The damage had already been done by the Twins with a four-run eighth against Ronel Blanco highlighted by Buxton’s first home run of the season. The Twins went down just six times in their first seven games.

Astros reliever Seth Martinez (1-1) took the loss on Vazquez’s tiebreaking single in the sixth inning, followed by a double by Farmer, who had three hits after a game-winning single in the tenth inning in the series opener. Farmer hit a three-run homer in a four-run second against Astros starter Luis Garcia, who finished four innings.

Alvarez connectedthe third slam of his careerin the third, a 116 mph drive over the limestone facade and into the plants in right field that was measured by theMLB Statcast dataas the third hardest hitin baseballthis season. Alvarez, who has three homers this year, moved into the major league lead with 14 RBIs.

The Twins debuted at Ryan’s request in new cream-colored jerseys with dark blue lettering and "Twin Cities" on the front, one of four new uniform sets that emerged from a major makeover during the offseason.

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The biggest improvement was in the rotation, with the acquisition of Pablo Lopez, the return of Kenta Maeda from injury and the opportunity for Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle to be healthier over the winter as well. The Twins have the best team ERA in the majors, and their starters have allowed just five runs in 40 1/3 innings over the first seven games.

Thanks to Alvarez’s big swing on Ryan’s first pitch, that streak of one or zero runs allowed ended with a smash. But Ryan, the youngest member of the group, reacted by retiring the next 11 batters in a row to finish six innings for the second straight start.

LOST BATS

Astros batters struck out 16 times in the series opener and missed out 17 more times this game, striking out seven in an eight-hitter streak from sixth to eighth. José Abreu took a called third strike in the second inning for a clock violation.

ON TOP

Astros manager Dusty Baker moved Chas McCormick into the top spot that opened up when star José Altuve broke his thumb late in spring training. Pena, who struck out four times Friday, was moved to sixth place.

DEPTH OF FIELD

Twins right fielder Max Kepler (right knee soreness) was placed on the 10-day disabled list before the game, his fourth consecutive absence. Joey Gallo was also held with pain in his right side. The Twins recalled Matt Wallner from Triple-A St. Paul for another outfielder. Byron Buxton is exclusively DH early in the season to watch out for his return from knee trouble.

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