MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Gibson didn't have his best stuff on Friday night against the Houston Astros. But with some early offense and a shutdown performance by the Minnesota bullpen, it was just enough.
Gibson pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings and then watched his bullpen close out a 3-0 victory over the Houston Astros at Target Field.
The win was Gibson's first since July 12 and helped salvage a brutal August for the young right-hander, who entered with a 6.35 ERA in five August starts. Gibson (9-9) lowered his season ERA to 3.82.
"I probably should have gone seven or eight (innings) tonight. That's really the only frustrating thing about it," Gibson said. "Any time you can leave an outing healthy and not give up any runs, that's probably a good night for the most part. Any time you don't give up a run, the team has a chance to win."
Left-hander Glen Perkins, returning from back spasms, and right-hander Trevor May bridged the gap to temporary closer Kevin Jepsen, who worked around two singles and a walk in the ninth inning for his ninth save this season and fourth since joining the Twins in a trade from the Tampa Bay Rays on July 31.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Jepsen got Astros second baseman Jose Altuve to line out to center field for the final out of the game.
Since Jepsen allowed two runs in his first game with the Twins, he has pitched 13 1/3 innings (14 appearances) of scoreless relief.
"They can't all be easy," Jepsen said. "But at the end of the day, it's just about getting the outs. Any time you walk guys, innings don't go as smoothly as they need to go."
Astros left-hander Scott Kazmir took the loss, allowing three earned runs, three hits and a walk in seven innings. Kazmir dropped to 1-4 in August and 0-2 in three starts against the Twins this season.
"He really didn't get hit hard at all," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Every mistake he made, either through the walk or the home run, came back to haunt him."
Twins third baseman Eduardo Nunez was responsible for two of the three runs, hitting a homer in the third inning and added an RBI groundout in the fourth.
Nunez's third-inning blast was a bit of a gift. Off the bat, Nunez said he thought he had flied out to left fielder Jake Marisnick. But as Nunez ran toward first, Marisnick kept retreating toward the wall.
"I threw my bat down because I was thinking, 'I just missed it,'" Nunez said. "That was a surprise, but a good surprise."
Playing without shortstop Carlos Correa, who missed his second straight game with a sore hamstring, Houston could muster just six hits -- five of them singles. The Astros have been shut out in three of their last eight games.
Altuve had two singles, the only player from either team to have a multi-hit game.
Nunez's homer was the first baserunner of the night for the Twins and was his third homer of the season.
Control issues haunted Kazmir in the fourth as the Twins took advantage of two hit by pitches. Kazmir plunked first baseman Trevor Plouffe to load the bases with nobody out, then hit designated hitter Torii Hunter with one out, scoring a run.
"I felt out of sync with my delivery," Kazmir said. "Normally in those situations, I kind of amp it up a little bit, give them a different look and throw it harder. When I tried to do that, it was just side to side with everything, pulling everything. That was unfortunate. Hitting two guys right there, that's just something you can't do, especially when you have guys on."
Nunez added an RBI groundout for his second run-scoring play of the night, giving the Twins a 3-0 advantage.
Gibson worked out of a two-out, two-on jam in the fifth and walked two in the sixth before giving way to left-hander Brian Duensing with two outs. He got shortstop Marwin Gonzalez to ground out to second to end the threat.
"A really big out there to get us out of that inning," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
NOTES: Astros SS Carlos Correa was held out of the lineup with hamstring soreness for the second consecutive game. ... Astros OF George Springer is set to head out on a rehabilitation assignment as soon as this weekend to Double-A Corpus Christi. He took batting practice on the field Friday and will head back to Houston before going out on his rehab. ... Twins 3B/DH Miguel Sano was scratched from the lineup with hamstring soreness. Manager Paul Molitor said Sano should be back in the lineup Saturday. ... Twins 1B Joe Mauer was given the day off. He was hitting .231 in 33 career at-bats against Friday's starter, LHP Scott Kazmir. ... The Astros and Twins play the second of a three-game series on Saturday at Target Field. Houston will send RHP Mike Fiers (6-9, 3.63 ERA) to the mound against Minnesota RHP Mike Pelfrey (6-7, 3.69).