Kepler, Twins walk off Astros to win series

MINNEAPOLIS — Max Kepler hit his second home run of the game, connecting for a solo drive with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Minnesota Twins bounced back from a late collapse to beat the Houston Astros 9-8 on Wednesday.

After the Twins blew an 8-1 lead, Kepler homered with two strikes off Brad Peacock (1-1).

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Kepler hit a two-run homer to cap an eight-run fourth, an inning that included Eddie Rosario’s bases-loaded triple.

A throwing error by second baseman Brian Dozier helped Houston tie it in the ninth. Down 8-6, the Astros loaded the bases with one out against Fernando Rodney (1-1). George Springer grounded into an RBI forceout, and the tying run scored when Dozier threw wide to first trying for a double play.

A series that had been marked by cold weather, walks and strikeouts finally saw a bit of offense after both starters faltered in the middle innings.

The first-pitch temperature was 44 degrees after starting in the 30s at night the previous two days. The teams combined for 32 walks and 61 strikeouts in the three-game series.

Lance McCullers Jr. allowed a career-high eight runs in 3 2/3 innings for the Astros. He gave up seven hits, tied a career high with six walks and struck out six.

Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson couldn’t take advantage of the big inning by the Twins’ offense. The following half inning, the Astros scored four times and chased him.

After giving up one earned run in his first 10 1/3 innings this season, Gibson surrendered five runs as he walked four batters and gave up seven hits.

Houston’s Alex Bregman had a career-high four hits, including his first homer of the season.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: 1B Yuli Gurriel (left hand surgery) returned to Houston and will work out in preparation for being cleared to return to the lineup on Friday. Gurriel hit .429 with four doubles and three RBIs in six rehab games at Double-A Corpus Christi. He was suspended for the first five games of the major league season for making an inappropriate gesture toward Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during the World Series.

Twins: Addison Reed pitched a night after an illness kept him away from the park.

UP NEXT

Astros: Following an off day, RHP Gerrit Cole (1-0, 0.64 ERA) will start Friday as Houston hosts the Texas Rangers. Cole has struck out 11 in each of his first two starts for the Astros and has given up one run in 14 innings.

Twins: RHP Jose Berrios (1-1, 3.29) will start the opener of a four-game series at home against the Chicago White Sox, though weekend weather could disrupt the schedule. Berrios gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings to lose his last start on April 7 against the Seattle Mariners.