Minnesota (35-34) at Houston (36-35)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 81° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Wed Jun 21, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After a dismal start to the month, the surging Minnesota Twins have won a season-high eight straight games behind clutch hitting and dominating pitching.

The Twins look to clinch their third straight series win when they continue their three-game set against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday.

Minnesota (35-33) improved to 10-1 since June 9 after Justin Morneau led off the 10th inning with a home run in the Twins’ 6-5 win over the Astros (36-35) on Tuesday. The victory moved Minnesota a game above .500 for the first time since it was 6-5 on April 15.

Morneau is batting .413 (19-for-46) with six home runs, nine runs and 19 RBIs during his career-high 11-game hitting streak.

“I got a little confidence going,” said Morneau, who leads the Twins in homers (17) and RBIs (57). “I like the way I’m seeing the ball now and the way things are going.”

Minnesota went 3-7 on a West Coast road trip at the start of June, including a stretch where it scored six total runs over five games.

The Twins’ offense has since turned around, though, as the team has scored four or more runs in 12 straight games for the first time since 1995.

Minnesota seeking its first nine-game winning streak since Sept. 7-16, 2004.

“It’s all about just playing better,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We really stunk it up that last trip but we came home and got back to playing better—running around the bases and slapping the ball everywhere. You put that with strong pitching performances and you’re going to win some games.”

In addition to their potent offense, the Twins lead the majors with a 1.89 ERA during their eight-game winning streak.

Minnesota hopes Carlos Silva (3-8, 7.07 ERA) can have a repeat performance of his last outing when he takes the mound Wednesday.

Silva has the worst ERA and highest opponent batting average (.352) in the major leagues, but pitched six shutout innings while scattering seven hits in Minnesota’s 5-3 win over Boston on Thursday, his first victory since May 9.

The right-hander is 1-0 with a 6.23 ERA in five career relief appearances against Houston.

The Astros have lost two straight games and three of their last four after a season-high four-game winning streak.

Houston allowed the Twins to score three runs in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game to tie the score, and it has given up 15 runs in the sixth inning or later in its last three losses.

“We’re struggling,” Houston manager Phil Garner said. “There’s no question about it. We had several opportunities to get it done but we didn’t do the job.”

Lance Berkman hit his 19th homer of the season on Monday, and is batting .413 (19-for-46) with four home runs, 17 RBIs and 11 runs in his last 12 games.

Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (8-4, 4.59) gets the start for the Astros. He is 2-2 with a 6.64 ERA in his last four outings.

Rodriguez allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings of a 7-2 loss to Kansas City on Friday, and is 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA in three career interleague starts.

He has never faced the Twins.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Silva Bos vs. W. Rodríguez KC
11-15 Record 9-10
5.94 ERA 5.64
70 K 98
32 BB 63
1.54 WHIP 1.60