HOUSTON (AP)Yordan Alvarez hit the 50th home run of his career, rookie Luis Garcia pitched six scoreless innings, and three relievers completed the four-hitter to help the Houston Astros to a 4-0 win over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night.
The victory snaps a three-game skid for the Astros, who entered the game having dropped five of six.
Alvarez, who was playing in his 184th career game, reached 50 home runs faster than any player in franchise history, passing Lance Berkman, who did it in his 231st game in 2001.
”Yordan is a force and he’s only going to get better,” manager Dusty Baker said. ”We’ve come to expect the big blow from Yordan, and he’s given it to us. His future is very, very bright.”
The Astros were up by a run when Alvarez connected on his homer off Michael Pineda (4-7) with no outs in the fourth to make it 2-0. Alvarez ranks second on the team with 22 home runs this season.
Alvarez is thrilled to be back this season after he was limited to just two games last season because of injuries to both his knees.
”That’s the main goal just stay healthy, and the results will take care of themselves,” he said through a translator.
His shot pushed the team’s streak of consecutive games with a homer to 17, which is the longest in the majors since 2019. The Astros have hit 31 home runs in that span, dating to July 19.
Garcia (8-6) permitted two hits and struck out eight to get back on track after allowing eight hits and five runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last start. Ryne Stanek gave up one hit in the seventh, and newly acquired Kendall Graveman did the same in the eighth. Ryan Pressly pitched a perfect ninth to complete the shutout.
Kyle Tucker and Aledmys Diaz hit consecutive singles to start the second and get things going for the Astros before Tucker advanced to third on a passed ball by catcher Ryan Jeffers. Chas McCormick singled on a grounder to shortstop to send Tucker home and put the Astros up 1-0.
The Astros added a pair of insurance runs with two outs in the eighth when Diaz doubled to left field to extend the lead to 4-0. Diaz has played well in 10 games since missing six weeks with a fractured hand and has been important filling in while the team deals with injuries to multiple infielders.
”He’s a tremendous player, clutch hitter, can play anywhere and play it well,” Baker said. ”He’s one of the best utility guys in baseball.”
Pineda yielded seven hits and two runs in six innings for his second straight loss.
Manager Rocco Baldelli was impressed with Pineda’s start despite the loss.
”Even when having to deal with things, he finds a way to limit the damage,” he said. ”He adjusts, he finds a way. He wiggles out of things and he did it again today. He adjusted very well to these hitters. He had a nice day on the mound, a very nice day.”
Twins: OF Byron Buxton (fractured left hand) is expected to begin participating in pregame workouts with the team on Monday, when the Twins return home. Buxton, who has been out since June 21, spent this week going through batting practice in the cage in Minnesota. Baldelli said they should know more about when he might return sometime next week.
Astros: 3B Alex Bregman (strained left quadriceps) went 1 for 3 with two walks on Friday night in his sixth rehabilitation game with Triple-A Sugar Land. Baker said there isn’t a timetable for the return of Bregman, who has been out since June 16. … RHP Pedro Baez, who has been out all season with injuries and an illness, pitched Thursday and Friday night for Sugar Land and has a 2.00 ERA in eight rehabilitation appearances.
ASTROS HALL OF FAME
The Astros inducted their 2020 class into the Hall of Fame on Saturday after being unable to celebrate the group last season because of the pandemic. Outfielder Cesar Cedeno, right-hander Roy Oswalt, first baseman Lance Berkman, closer Billy Wagner, 1B Bob Watson and Roy Hofheinz, who was instrumental in the building of the Astrodome, were members of the class.
Cedeno, Oswalt, Berkman and Wagner, as well as family members of Hofheinz and Watson were at Minute Maid Park Saturday for a pregame ceremony to mark the occasion. Berkman was at the park early in the day but was rushed out of a press conference before he could speak as a precaution after a member of his family tested positive for COVID-19.
Houston’s Lance McCullers Jr. (9-2, 3.02 ERA) opposes Kenta Maeda (4-4, 4.65) when the series wraps up Sunday.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports