HOUSTON -- A torrid Alex Bregman got the Astros' offense going on Wednesday night with a two-run homer in the third inning and he capped one of his biggest nights at the plate with a three-run double in the eighth.
Bregman continued his assault of opposing pitchers by going 2-for-3 with a homer, double, a career-high five RBIs and two walks to lead the Astros to their fifth win in a row in a 9-1 victory over the Twins for a three-game sweep at Minute Maid Park.
"Today was a good day," Bregman said. "I put good swings on the ball, swung at pitches to hit. I think I chased one or two pitches away from me. Our team did an unbelievable job today coming out and getting ahead and [Evan Gattis] had a huge homer. We had a lot of traffic on the bases all night."
The Astros, who have won 12 of their last 15 games, maintained their 3 1/2-game lead over the A's, who rolled to an 8-2 win over the Yankees on Wednesday night, for first place in the American League West.
Bregman gave the Astros a 2-0 lead in the second inning with a two-run homer off Astros nemesis Jake Odorizzi, extending his career highs for homers (29). He's reached base safely in his 33rd consecutive game, which is the longest streak by an Astros hitter since Lance Berkman (37 games) in 2004.
"It's definitely a step in the right direction," Bregman said. "There's still so much to improve on, so much to get better at. That's why this game is so great. It's a game of failure. You can be on top of the world one day and the next day you can go 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. You can't ever get too high or too low."
"I was fortunate enough to play with a guy like Carlos Beltran, who taught all of us last year not to get too high or too low. Our team is on a roll right now, but we can go out there tomorrow and get crushed. This game is very humbling and you have to take it one pitch at a time, one day at a time and compete."
Bregman, who leads the Majors with 47 doubles and 76 extra-base hits, batted .360 with a .449 on-base percentage and 17 RBIs during the Astros' 10-game homestand in which they went 7-3. He had an extra-base hit in five consecutive games, including four games with a homer.
Gattis' two-run homer -- his 25th of the season -- in the fourth made 4-0, and Jose Altuve snapped an 0-for-19 skid with an RBI double in the sixth inning that pushed the lead to 6-1. Bregman cleared the bases in the eighth with a double off the wall in left field, giving him 96 RBIs.
"He's putting up so many quality at-bats, one after another," manager AJ Hinch said. "It's hard to expect it at this level because it's not as easy as these guys make it look sometimes, but he's getting great pitches to hit and not missing them, and doing damage. Of course, the game is going to set up for Altuve to walk there [in the eighth] to load the bases and give him another opportunity. It's a shame we have a day off for him personally."
Astros left-hander Framber Valdez, making his fourth career appearance and third Major League start, overcame early control problems. He walked three of the first six hitters he faced, including a pair of four-pitch walks in the first inning, but he allowed only one run in 5 1/3 innings on a Willians Astudillo solo homer in the fifth.
"A very weird line for him the first couple of innings because it could have imploded easily on him," Hinch said. "A good recovery for him because the game is completely different if they capitalize on the free passes early."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Right-hander Dean Deetz made his Major League debut in the ninth for the Astros, getting Chris Gimenez to fly out to left field on the first pitch he threw before striking out Jake Cave to end the game. Deetz, ranked as the club's No. 18 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was called up on Monday after appearing in 21 games at Triple-A Fresno. He began the season serving an 80-game suspension.
"It's special, especially on a team like this," he said. "It's a dream come true."
Valdez is the third pitcher in franchise history to get the win in three of his first four career games, joining Bud Norris (2009) and Mark Lemongello (1976).
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Twins used four outfielders during Bregman's opening at-bat in the first inning --- the first time any team has used a four-outfield defensive alignment at Minute Maid Park. Bregman drew a walk, but he took note of the alignment. His remaining plate appearances came with runners on base, so the Twins couldn't put an infielder in left.
"That was crazy," Bregman said. "It kind of messed with me a little bit the first pitch or two. I was like, 'Hey, go and hit, and just pretend it's normal.'"
HE SAID IT
"Altuve looked great in the box today. I'll tell you one thing: Jose Altuve is going to be the MVP ... for the rest of the season. He's a special hitter, and when I get to hit behind him or in front of him, it makes my job a lot easier." -- Bregman
Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole (13-5, 2.86 ERA) will start the opener of a key three-game series between division leaders at 6:10 p.m. CT on Friday at Fenway Park. After losing three consecutive starts from July 30-Aug. 10, Cole has gone 3-0 with a 3.57 ERA in his past four starts. Lefty David Price (14-6, 3.60 ERA) will start for the Red Sox.