McCormick 4 RBIs as Astros beat Twins 5-1, avoid sweep

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Chas McCormick had four RBIs, Hunter Brown combined on a two-hitter and the Houston Astros beat the Minnesota Twins 5-1 Sunday to salvage the series finale.

The World Series champions are 4-6 after winning for just the second time in seven games.

Mauricio Dubón had two hits and scored two runs, while Jeremy Peña and Yainer Diaz each had two hits for the Astros, who avoided a three-game sweep.

McCormick drove a high, outside slider the opposite way for a two-out, two-run homer in the third. In his next at-bat, he muscled a high fastball up the middle for a two-out, two-run, broken-bat single and a 4-1 lead.

“I just had to get on top of the ball. I felt like I was crashing a little bit,” said McCormick, who replaced Peña as the Astros’ leadoff hitter on Saturday. “Those balls up in the zone, I’ve been kind of rolling over, so all day I felt like I was getting pitches up in the zone and I made adjustments. I’m happy to get some two-out knocks. ”

Brown (1-1) allowed an unearned run and two hits over seven innings with seven strikeouts and two walks, rebounding from a shaky first start in which he gave up four earned runs and didn’t get out of the fifth inning against Detroit.

Brown reached 98.2 mph with his fastball, mixing 28 fastballs, 35 sliders, 33 knuckle-curves and one splitter.

“That bodes good for his confidence, for his next start and then after that,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Hopefully he can just get on a roll there, because you don’t depend on the bottom of your rotation to pitch like a top-of-the-rotation guy, you depend on them to give you innings and give you quality, and it was great to stop that streak.”

Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly each worked a scoreless inning for Houston, which entered the series with seven wins in its previous eight games at Minnesota.

Tyler Mahle (1-1) gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings.

“I think he looked relatively sharp, mostly. But I think there are some pitches he would want back,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.

“They hit a home run to the opposite field on a slider on the outer edge of the plate — that’s a big swing by them, too,” he added. “When you look at it, those are defining plays in the outcome of the game. They got it done. We didn’t really muster enough offensively to get it going.”