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Twins rally in 12th after blowing lead in Houston

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- When asked to summarize what had transpired over the previous four-plus hours Tuesday night, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was justified in dismissing the twists and turns as too numerous to neatly review. In this particular instance, the details ceded significance to the result.

After blowing a three-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Twins rallied for three runs in the 12th and outlasted the Houston Astros 9-6 at Minute Maid Park.

Minnesota pounced on Astros rookie left-hander Kevin Chapman (0-1), who set a club record by starting his career with 13 appearances without allowing an earned run. The Twins snapped that streak in the 12th inning when Clete Thomas scored on a wild pitch. Darin Mastroianni added a two-run double that brought home Josmil Pinto and Doug Bernier.

In his second career major league game, Pinto finished 4-for-5 with a walk and two runs. He was in the middle of both of the Twins' late rallies, in the eighth and the 12th.

"Nothing is easy for me," said Pinto, who is 6-for-9 in the big leagues. "I just have to play the game the correct way."

Twins right-hander Josh Roenicke walked Brandon Barnes and Marwin Gonzalez in the 12th, but he earned his first save by getting Matt Pagnozzi to ground out. Pagnozzi, acquired by Houston earlier Tuesday in a trade with the Atlanta Braves, was the second of consecutive pinch hitters.

Minnesota (61-76) earned its third consecutive win, its second in a row over the Astros. Houston (45-93) has lost seven of eight.

"They ended up doing a little bit more than we did," Astros manager Bo Porter said.

Entering the ninth with a three-run lead, Twins closer Glen Perkins coughed it up. With two outs, he hit Brett Wallace with a pitch before allowing a single to L.J. Hoes and a three-run home run to Barnes. The game-tying blast went the opposite way to right and came on an 0-2 pitch.

In the seventh, Barnes cut the Twins' lead to 4-3 with a two-out, two-run single to right field off right-hander Casey Fien, but he was later cut down trying to score while Gonzalez, who followed Barnes' hit with a walk, was caught in a rundown between first and second base.

Minnesota immediately rebuilt its three-run lead in the eighth, with Pinto scoring on an Alex Presley double and Presley coming home on a Mastroianni sacrifice fly.

"We came up with some big (hits) there at the end," Gardenhire said. "A big hit by Mastroianni and a couple guys getting on base was huge. There are too many details in between to figure it out, but the bottom line is we won the ballgame and we had to play extra innings to get there."

Astros rookie right-hander Jarred Cosart owned an outstanding 1.59 ERA entering his ninth career start, but the unusually low batting average against him on balls put in play (.250) and his bloated walk rate (12.8 percent) were lingering causes for concern.

The Twins put his run suppression to the test by extending Cosart deep into counts. He surrendered a two-run home run to second baseman Brian Dozier on a 3-2 count in the first inning, then allowed a two-run homer to Trevor Plouffe, who finished 4-for-6, in the third one batter after Josh Willingham worked a four-pitch, two-out walk.

Cosart needed 53 pitches to record six outs, and, by the close of the fourth inning, he trailed 4-1 and had 90 pitches on his ledger. Cosart allowed eight baserunners, so it wasn't a surprise when right-hander Lucas Harrell emerged from the Houston bullpen to open the fifth.

"I didn't get the results," Cosart said. "A starter's job is to keep the team in the game and give us a chance to win the game. I didn't do that today.

"I thought I only made one really bad pitch, but at the same time, I fell behind some hitters, and that's how it went."

Twins left-hander Pedro Hernandez was making what amounted to a spot start, and he was outstanding. The homer he gave up to first baseman Chris Carter in the second inning was the only extra-base hit Hernandez allowed in his six-inning, two-run performance.

NOTES: Tri-City won its division in the New York-Penn League on Tuesday and became the sixth Astros affiliate to clinch a postseason berth. That figure represents a franchise record, and Houston is the first organization to have six domestic affiliates qualify for the postseason since the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003. ... Twins RHP Anthony Swarzak entered Tuesday leading all major league relievers with 86 1/3 innings. His innings total is the most for a Twins reliever since Matt Guerrier pitched 88 innings in 2007. He wasn't one of the seven Minnesota pitchers who appeared in Tuesday's game.

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