- Associated Press - Saturday, June 7, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Houston Astros were undone by sloppy defense just a game after Dexter Fowler’s diving catch saved the day.

Two errors didn’t help Scott Feldman (3-4), who lasted just 1 2/3 innings as the Twins jumped out to a 3-0 lead en route to an 8-0 win - which is the Astros’ second shutout loss in four games.

“Our defense didn’t help, but Scotty did have a tough time commanding the strike zone today,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “This is just one of those games you put in the rear end and come back tomorrow and win the series.”

After a perfect first, Feldman hit Josh Willingham leading off the second. Trevor Plouffe followed with a grounder that third baseman Matt Dominquez misplayed for an error. A walk to Kurt Suzuki loaded the bases with one out, but Feldman appeared to be on the verge of escaping when he struck out Eduardo Escobar.

Shortstop Marwin Gonzalez then bobbled Aaron Hicks’ grounder up the middle and a run scored. Danny Santana followed with a two-run single to right to put the Twins ahead 3-0, and Feldman got yanked after walking Brian Dozier to load the bases.

Feldman gave up just one hit, but walked two batters, struck another and allowed three unearned runs in his 58-pitch outing, 43 of which came in the second inning.

“Brutal,” Feldman said. “I needed one pitch, and it never happened. Then I finally did, a come-backer to me and I couldn’t catch it. Just overall a frustrating inning.”

Reliever Paul Clemens retired Joe Mauer on a fly ball to end the inning, but Clemens walked five batters in the fourth inning as the Twins added four more runs.

After two walks to start the fourth, Santana doubled to center to drive in two runs before Willingham’s RBI single gave the Twins a 6-0 lead.

Clemens, who allowed four earned runs in two innings, hadn’t walked more than three batters in an appearance before Saturday.

“It was one of those days, back-to-back guys struggle to command the strike zone,” Porter said. “Give Minnesota credit, they took pitch after pitch after pitch and put themselves into some good hitting counts. We didn’t help ourselves by allowing them to extend innings.”

Reliever Jerome Williams replaced Clemens after he walked Chris Parmelee to score Mauer for the Twins’ fourth and final run of the fourth inning.

Williams allowed one run and posted three strikeouts in three innings.

Houston didn’t keep the defensive surge rolling after Fowler’s spectacular grab on Friday night robbed Plouffe of a leadoff extra-base hit, which helped secure the Astros’ 5-4 win.

Kyle Gibson (5-5) made matters worse for the Astros, who mustered just five hits on Saturday afternoon.

“Missed some pitches,” Porter said. “Their guy attacked the strike zone, had some very hit-able pitches, just did not put swings on them.”

Gibson scattered three hits and three walks while striking out five, allowing only one runner to reach second base. He was especially effective at keeping the ball on the ground as he induced 12 groundball outs, including the last nine batters he retired.

Santana, who hit his first major league home run on Friday night, flied out to lead off the first inning. He then got hits in his next four at-bats, raising his batting average to .373. He hit a two-run single in the second and an RBI single in the fifth to go along with his two-run double in the fourth.

“You lose a guy like (Oswaldo) Arcia in the lineup and you think, ‘Where’s it going to happen now?” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “But somebody else just has to pick up the slack.”

NOTES: For the second straight day, Arcia was available only for pinch-hitting duties. Arcia sprained his ankle in a game against the Brewers on Thursday. … Injured Astros SS Jonathan Villar missed his fourth straight game after getting hit in the right elbow Tuesday . The Twins’ promotional giveaway on Saturday was the “Gardy Gnome,” a figurine depicting a gnome-like version of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire kicking a hat. “I told the promotions people, ‘Whatever you want to do, go ahead,” a slightly sheepish Gardenhire said.

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