(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Astros scraped by Friday night with a win in the first leg of a three-game weekend series with the Minnesota Twins, and will try to make it two in a row at Target Field Saturday.
Houston will need a solid effort from starting pitcher Scott Feldman, who is attempting to recover from a brutal outing he experienced against the Orioles his last time out.
Feldman was shelled for nine earned runs on 11 hits against Baltimore on Sunday, lasting just 5 1/3 innings. The loss - his third in his last four decisions - raised his earned run average over a run, from 3.02 on the year to 4.25. The 11 hits he surrendered were the most given up by Feldman this season.
"A lot of balls up in the zone," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "Uncharacteristic. Scotty is a ground-ball pitcher and he had the ball elevated a little bit more than usual."
Feldman sits on a 3-3 record this year. The 6-foot-7 right hander has started five games against the Twins in his career, with a 2-2 mark in over 41 innings pitched.
Kyle Gibson (4-5) takes the hill for Minnesota Saturday. The right hander has struggled some this season, posting a 4.35 earned run average in 62 innings pitched in 11 starts.
In his last eight starts, Gibson has notched just one win with five losses and two no decisions. His last time out was a six-inning effort that resulted in a 6-2 loss against the Brewers in Milwaukee in which he surrendered six hits, four earned runs and struck out just one batter. Gibson has faced Houston once in his career - a no decision in which he allowed nine hits and four earned runs in just three innings.
But Gibson has felt much more comfortable in the confines of Target Field, where he's 3-1 with a 1.85 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and just seven earned runs given up in five starts.
"We've said all along, he seems to be able to make a pitch at home and hasn't been able to figure that out yet on the road and having that one big inning where it hurts you," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said prior to Gibson's last start.
Dallas Keuchel was the star of Friday night's contest for the Astros, in which the start of the game was delayed due to heavy rain. Keuchel went six scoreless innings on the mound, giving up just five hits and striking out six batters in the Astros' 5-4 triumph.
Phil Hughes got the nod for Minnesota in the series opener, and gave up five runs in six innings.
Houston took a 5-0 lead over the Twins by the time the sixth inning was up. Marwin Gonzalez and Matt Dominguez each homered to get the scoring started, and George Springer collected two RBI in the contest for the Astros. Danny Santana homered for Minnesota and plated two RBI in the losing effort.
"We put some decent swings out there and had plenty of chances," Gardenhire said.
Houston will be looking for its seventh straight win on the road Saturday.