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Twins, Mauer top Astros 4-2

Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer (7) and center fielder Danny Santana (39) celebrate after defeating the Houston Astros 4-2 at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON -- Joe Mauer made his return from the disabled list a triumphant one, extending his long-delayed hitting streak while also driving in the winning run in the ninth inning of the Minnesota Twins' 4-2 win over the Houston Astros on Monday night at Minute Maid Park.

Despite missing 34 games with a strained right oblique, first baseman Mauer reached base three times in his first game since landing on the 15-day DL. His RBI single off Astros right-hander Josh Fields (2-5) plated left fielder Jordan Schafer, with second baseman Brian Dozier scoring from first base on the play when Astros left fielder Domingo Santana inexplicably held the ball long enough for Dozier to round third base.

The Twins (53-64) missed an opportunity to forge ahead in the eighth inning when third baseman Trevor Plouffe was thrown out at home trying to score on a Chris Parmelee single to right. Astros right fielder Robbie Grossman recorded the assist to preserve the 2-2 deadlock.

The Twins' bullpen proved formidable in relief of left-hander Tommy Milone, who made his first start since being acquired by the Twins in a trade with Oakland two weeks ago.

Left-hander Brian Duensing (3-2) earning the victory in advance of closer Glen Perkins, who picked up his 29thsave by working around a one-out single by center fielder Jake Marisnick in the ninth.

Given his struggles, Astros right-hander Brad Peacock had to take his outing against the Twins as a positive despite his elevated pitch count.

Minnesota managed just two runs, one earned, against Peacock over five innings, with that lone earned run coming in the first inning after the Twins loaded the bases with no outs. Peacock rallied to retire the final three batters he faced in the inning, surrendering only a run-scoring fielder's choice to Plouffe.

Peacock allowed at least one baserunner in every inning except his final frame, the fifth. His throwing error on a pickoff attempt of Twins center fielder Danny Santana enabled shortstop Eduardo Escobar to score from third and give the Twins a 2-1 lead in the fourth. But, by and large, Peacock limited the damage despite needing 115 pitches to do so.

The Astros didn't waste much time matching the Twins whenever they scored. Second baseman Jose Altuve blasted his fifth home run in the bottom of the first to pull Houston even at 1-all, and designated hitter Chris Carter crushed a solo shot, his 26th, off Milone in the fifth to take Peacock off the hook for the loss.