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Mauer returns to lead Twins past Astros

HOUSTON — Joe Mauer made his return from the disabled list a triumphant one, extending his long-delayed hitting streak while also driving in the winning run in the ninth inning of the Minnesota Twins’ 4-2 win over the Houston Astros on Monday night at Minute Maid Park.

Despite missing 34 games with a strained right oblique, Mauer reached base three times in his first game since landing on the 15-day DL. His RBI single off Astros right-hander Josh Fields (2-5) plated Jordan Schafer, with Brian Dozier scoring from first base on the play when Astros left fielder Domingo Santana held the ball long enough for Dozier to round third base.

The Twins (53-64) missed an opportunity to forge ahead in the eighth inning when Trevor Plouffe was thrown out at home trying to score on a Chris Parmelee single to right. Astros right fielder Robbie Grossman recorded the assist to preserve the 2-2 deadlock.

The Twins’ bullpen proved formidable in relief of left-hander Tommy Milone, who made his first start since being acquired by the Twins in a trade with Oakland two weeks ago.

Left-hander Brian Duensing (3-2) earning the victory in advance of closer Glen Perkins, who picked up his 29th save by working around a one-out single by Jake Marisnick in the ninth.