HOUSTON (AP) — A day after Jonathan Villar was yanked from a game because of a baserunning blunder, the 22-year-old rookie got a perfect chance to redeem himself.
Villar scored the winning run on Trevor Crowe’s single in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Houston Astros beat the Minnesota Twins 6-5 on Wednesday.
Villar singled to start the ninth and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jose Altuve. Crowe’s line drive to left field off Brian Duensing (6-2) allowed the speedy Villar to score easily, giving Houston its first win in six tries against Minnesota.
Manager Bo Porter took Villar out of Tuesday night’s game after he was thrown out trying to stretch a leadoff single into a double in the third inning. Porter spoke to him afterward about the importance of being smart on the bases.
They had a much more positive talk after Wednesday’s game.
“I went over and I gave him a hug and told him, ‘I’m very proud of you,'” Porter said. “That’s maturity … a lot of guys would hang their head and say, ‘Poor old me, I got taken out of the game.’ He didn’t handle it that way at all.”
“I really felt like he was going to handle it the right way and he came out today and literally showed that he handled it the right way,” Porter continued.
Villar understood why he got in trouble, but doesn’t plan on stifling his aggression on the bases.
“I told him I was going to keep playing my game,” said Villar, whose comments were translated by a reporter who spoke Spanish. “Despite what happened yesterday, he likes for me to play aggressively. He likes me to play aggressively, so that’s how I’ll play. That’s how I’ll always play because that’s my style of play.”
Duensing was unhappy that he wasn’t able to hold off the Astros.
“I just didn’t execute right there at the end, and they did what they were supposed to,” he said.
Ryan Doumit’s leadoff home run in the ninth against Astros reliever Erik Bedard (4-10) tied it at 5.
“We had chances, but there at the end, they just got it done,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “They got the big hit, and (Duensing) just didn’t make a good pitch there.”
Crowe, who also drove in a run in the fourth, has seven hits in four games since returning from Triple-A.
“It’s definitely a good start,” he said. “I owe a lot of credit to Bo, I was in a good rhythm and he put me right in the lineup and I feel like I’m still in that rhythm.”
Minnesota was down 3-0 after a three-run first inning by the Astros before tying it on a three-run shot by Alex Presley in the third. It was Presley’s first homer since being acquired from Pittsburgh in the trade for Justin Morneau.
Pedro Florimon doubled to open the eighth and scored on a groundout by Darin Mastroianni as the Twins closed to 5-4.
Before tying it, Minnesota squandered a chance in the seventh when Chris Herrmann grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
Brandon Barnes had two RBIs and Chris Carter and Brett Wallace added two hits apiece for Houston.
Minnesota starter Liam Hendriks yielded eight hits and five runs in 4 1-3 innings, leaving him with just one win in six starts this season.
Houston starter Jordan Lyles allowed four hits and three runs in 6 1-3 innings.
An RBI double by Wallace put Houston up 1-0 in the first inning. Carter walked before Wallace barely scored on a single by Marc Krauss and make it 2-0, and Barnes added a sacrifice fly.
Presley came out on top of a 13-pitch at-bat in the third, coming back from an 0-2 count before hitting a tying home run to right field.
Jose Altuve doubled with two outs in the fourth and scored on Crowe’s single for a 4-3 lead.
Carter led off the fifth with a single, then the 6-foot-4, 245-pound slugger took second on his second steal this season. Barnes’ single off reliever Ryan Pressly pushed Houston’s lead to 5-3.
NOTES: Krauss was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday and was Houston’s designated hitter. … The Twins are off on Thursday before opening a 10-game homestand with a three-game series against Toronto. … The Astros open a four-game series with Oakland on Thursday when Houston’s Brad Peacock opposes Sonny Gray. … Minnesota All-Star C Joe Mauer, who has missed 16 games after sustaining a concussion, is scheduled to take batting practice at Target Field on Wednesday … Astros All-Star C Jason Castro was out of the lineup for the second straight game after spraining his right knee on Monday. Porter said he is still sore and that he isn’t sure when he’ll return. … Astros 3B Matt Dominguez also missed a second consecutive game because of a stomach illness.
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