J.A. Happ took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, and Willians Astudillo and Jake Cave hit solo home runs as the Twins snapped a four-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates Friday at Target Field.
Making his third start of the season, and for the Twins, Happ walked two batters in the second inning but otherwise faced the minimum over seven innings. Jacob Stallings broke up his no-hit bid with a one-out single in the eighth inning.
Happ (1-0) struck out three and lowered his earned-run average to 1.69. Taylor Rogers got the last two outs in the ninth for his first save in two chances this season.
Wilmer Difo appeared to leg out an infield single in the fifth inning, hitting a hard grounder back to the mound that Happ couldn’t stop. Happ tracked it down but his throw was off target, but Difo was called out for runner interference to end the inning.
After shortstop Jorge Polanco threw out Todd Frazier to start the eighth, the announced crowd of 9,541 socially distanced throughout the stadium rose to its feet in anticipation of a little history. But Stallings, who stepped to the plate on an 0-for-19 skid, doubled sharply to left to end the no-hit bid on the Pirates’ next at-bat.
Fans remained on their feet and gave Happ a standing ovation as manager Rocco Baldelli immediately pulled the veteran left-hander for right-hander Tyler Duffey with Stallings on second and one out.
Duffey walked the first batter he faced, No. 8 hitter Difo, before getting Kevin Newman to ground to short. With runners at second and third, he struck out leadoff hitter Adam Frazier to end the inning. He fanned Phillip Evans for the first out in the ninth before making way for Rogers.
Astudillo, filling in at first base for injured Miguel Sano, jumped on a high fastball from Pittsburgh starter JT Brubaker to give the Twins a 1-0 lead with a two-out home run to left in the third inning. Cave took a Brubaker fastball opposite field with one out in the fifth, just clearing the fence for a 2-0 lead with one out.
Brubaker (2-1) gave up just the two runs in seven innings, striking out five and walking none.
The Twins hadn’t won in more than a week. They entered the game with losses in nine of their previous 10 games and had three games of a West Coast road trip postponed by positive COVID tests in the organization.