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Houston’s Jose Altuve safely steals second base in the first inning as Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier tries to field the throw Sunday at Target Field in Minneapolis. USA TODAY Sports

Astros use 4 homers to overwhelm Twins

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By Dan Myers

Sports Xchange

MINNEAPOLIS — Chris Carter’s grand slam with one out in the seventh inning broke the game open. Jon Singleton’s grand slam in the ninth inning made history.

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The Houston Astros, powered by a pair of grand slams, blasted the Minnesota Twins 14-5 Sunday in the final game of a three-game series at Target Field.

For both Carter and Singleton, the slams were the first of their career. The two in one game was only the second time in franchise history it has happened, and the first since July 30, 1969.

Houston built a 5-0 lead through its half of the fourth inning, but watched the Twins chip away at the lead, pulling to within two after back-to-back RBI singles by third baseman Trevor Plouffe and left fielder Josh Willingham in the bottom of the fifth made it 5-3.

But the Astros got to Twins lefty Brian Duensing to start the seventh, getting a double a walk and a bunt single to load the bases in front of designated hitter Carter, who smashed a 2-1 fastball the opposite way 390 feet over the right field wall for his 10th homer of the season and first career grand slam.

In the ninth, a single, an error and a hit batter loaded the bases for first baseman Singleton against Twins closer Glen Perkins, who hit his second home run of the season to nearly the same spot in right as Carter did.

Minnesota scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh and had two on with one out, but Astros left-hander Darin Downs got out of the jam with a foul out and a three-pitch strikeout to end the threat. Downs (1-0) earned the win, pitching 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Houston took advantage of wild outing from Twins starter Samuel Deduno, who struggled with his control all day. Deduno went only three-plus innings, walking four and hitting a pair of batters, allowing five earned runs in taking the loss. He dropped to 2-4.

Astros starter Collin McHugh wasn’t much better, walking five over 4 1/3 innings, but he did a better job limiting the damage. He allowed three runs on three hits but also struck out six, including one to escape a two-on, two-out jam in the third.

Deduno was in trouble in each inning he worked, escaping the first thanks to a 4-6-3 double play with two on and one out. He wasn’t as lucky in the second, when after a walk and a stolen base to left fielder Robbie Grossman, catcher Carlos Corporan drove in a run with an RBI single.

Center fielder Dexter Fowler led off the third inning with a solo homer over the right field wall to make it 2-0 before Deduno issued a pair of walks and hit a batter to start the third before being lifted. Twins righty Anthony Swarzak entered and allowed back-to-back RBI singles to shortstop Jonathan Villar and Fowler and a sacrifice fly by second baseman Jose Altuve to close the book on Deduno.

Twins right fielder Eduardo Nunez hit a solo home run to left, his second of the season, to get Minnesota on the board in the fourth. A sacrifice fly by Willingham and an RBI double by Nunez plated two more for the Twins in the seventh, but Astros right fielder George Springer got one back in the eighth, leading off the inning with his 12th homer.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Gibson, Santana fuel Twins’ rout

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins, aided by seven walks, defeated the Houston Astros 8-0 Saturday at Target Field.

Astros starter Scott Feldman allowed only one hit but gave up two walks and three runs thanks to two early errors by the defense behind him. He lasted only 1 2/3 innings and took the loss, giving up three unearned runs and dropping to 3-4.

Minnesota busted the game open in the fourth inning against Houston reliever Paul Clemens, who had trouble finding the strike zone. He walked five Twins hitters in a disastrous inning.

With the Astros trailing 3-0, Clemens walked the first two batters before center fielder Aaron Hicks laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Designated hitter Danny Santana cleared the bases with a double to the gap in left center. Two walks and two singles plated two more runs and made it 7-0

Twins starter Kyle Gibson took advantage of the support, holding the Astros to three hits in seven shutout innings — the third time this season Gibson has kept an opponent off the scoreboard for at least seven innings. Gibson struck out a season-high five batters, which tied a career best, and improved to 5-5.

Gibson has excelled at Target Field this season, where he improved to 4-1. He has not allowed a run at home in three games and 15 1/3 innings, and his 1.54 ERA at home is the best in the American League.

Santana, a rookie playing in his 21st game in the majors, had four hits and drove in five runs — both career highs — and is now hitting .373 for the season. In addition to his two-run double in the fourth, Santana had a two-RBI single in the second and an RBI single in the seventh.

Twins cut Kubel to make room for Kendrys Morales

The Minnesota Twins officially signed first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales on Sunday to a one-year, prorated $12 million contract.

Morales’ portion of the deal is more than $7.4 million. Since Morales is not injured and is out of options, the club cannot send him to the minor leagues.

To make room for Morales on their 25-man roster, the Twins designated outfielder Jason Kubel for assignment

Kubel, 32, had a batting line of .224/.313/.295 with one home run and 13 RBIs in 156 at-bats this season.

“I just had a lot of good memories,” Kubel told Fox Sports North. “A lot of big wins. A lot of big homers. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Morales agreed to the deal on Saturday. He batted .277 with 23 home runs and 80 RBIs with the Seattle Mariners last year.

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