By Brian McTaggart and Rhett Bollinger
HOUSTON -- George Springer homered for the second game in a row, hitting a two-run shot over the railroad tracks high above Minute Maid Park's left field to cap a three-run fourth inning and send the Astros to a 6-4 win over the Twins on Tuesday night.
Springer's sixth homer of the season gave the Astros a 6-2 lead, and four relievers were flawless after starter Collin McHugh (3-3) allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings. Jason Castro also homered for the Astros, and Carlos Gomez doubled twice after missing the previous three games.
"We never feel out of games, and we never play like we're out of games, which is good and bad," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "In some ways we know we have a quick-strike offense. It hasn't struck as often as it's going to, but we know we're a walk and a double and a homer away from a big number."
Twins starter Alex Meyer (0-1), making his first career start, lasted just 2 2/3 innings, allowing three runs, three hits and three walks. Minnesota got solo homers from Danny Santana to lead off the game and Byung Ho Park in the sixth to cut the lead to 6-4.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Gomez returns with a bang: Gomez, who missed the previous three games with a rib cage injury suffered diving for a ball on Friday in Oakland, returned to the lineup and doubled in his first two at-bats, in the second and fourth inning. He doubled and scored on a balk in the fourth for his second consecutive multihit game.
"It's not about me, you know?" Gomez said. "[April] has always been rough [in] my career, so I'm hesitating. I know I'm going to start to get really hot. What's important today is we came out and did the little things." More >
Byung Ho Parked: Park crushed his team-leading seventh homer of the year in the sixth to knock McHugh from the game. The homer, which was his second opposite-field shot of the season, left the bat at 105 mph and went a projected 397 feet, per Statcast™. It would have been a two-run blast, but Miguel Sano was tagged out at second after popping up off the bag while sliding.
"The more I'm playing, the more at-bats I'm getting, and the more I'm seeing American pitchers, it's just giving me a lot of lessons," Park said through translator J.D. Kim. "I'm getting a lot more confidence as I stand in the box."
Meyer's debut cut short: Meyer cruised through the first two innings, with four strikeouts, but ran into trouble in the third. He gave up a leadoff homer to Castro before back-to-back walks hurt him. After an RBI double from Carlos Correa, a wild pitch sent home another run. Meyer was able to get Tyler White to fly out to shallow left but was then pulled in favor of long reliever Tommy Milone, whom he replaced in the rotation. Milone went 3 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on two hits, including the two-run blast from Springer in the fourth.
Meyer was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after the game, with reliever J.R. Graham coming up to take his place on the roster.
"I was just getting behind," Meyer said. "I wasn't throwing my curveball for a strike in that third inning to get back into counts. Guys were able to sit on fastballs. You can't fall behind." More >
Bullpen nearly perfect: Astros relievers Ken Giles, Pat Neshek, Will Harris and Luke Gregerson combined to send down 10 of the 11 batters they faced while throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings. The only baserunner came on an error by Correa. Gregerson worked a 1-2-3 ninth to improve to 6-for-6 in save chances.
"It's what we expect," Gregerson said. "It's what we did last year. We don't expect anything different than that coming into every game. We feed off of it, and we'll continue to keep rolling, hopefully." More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
All five of the Astros' hits were for extra bases -- three doubles and two home runs.
Castro's homer in the third was reviewed by the umpires, as the ball appeared to hit a fan reaching over the left-field fence. But after a review, the call was confirmed by replay, and it remained a solo homer.
"When it happened, I saw the ball hit below the line," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I know the fans were reaching for the ball. But you can't really question it. The explanation was it was fan interference that happened above the rail."
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Phil Hughes (1-4, 4.45 ERA) is set to start the series finale on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Hughes saw his streak of four straight quality starts come to an end in his last outing, as he went a season-low five innings against the Tigers on Friday, giving up four runs on seven hits.
Astros: The Astros will send Mike Fiers (2-1, 4.97 ERA) to the mound for Wednesday's 7:10 p.m. CT series finale against the Twins trying to win consecutive games for the first time this season. Fiers held the A's to two runs in seven innings in his previous start, on Friday in Oakland.