CLEVELAND – By the end of the fifth inning Friday, Bailey Ober had given up only a two-out walk and a harmless double, putting up five zeros on the scoreboard.

And he was the least effective starter in the game.

But Guardians rookie Peyton Battenfield, who retired the first 17 batters he faced with alarming ease, finally was less than perfect in the sixth inning, and the Twins took advantage of the brief opportunity to earn a 2-0 victory at Progressive Field.

The Twins, averaging four hits per game during this road trip, managed only three, the first time since 2019 that they have won a game with so little offense. But for a team-record 17th consecutive game, they hit a home run — and that was enough.

Battenfield "was tough. That cutter of his gave us a lot of problems. Our guys weren't seeing it great," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "It was a game where we needed a moment."

They got one, their only one, from Christian Vázquez and Max Kepler.

With two outs in the sixth, Vázquez lined a first-pitch fastball into left field to break up the rookie's perfect game, triggering an appreciative ovation from the announced 17,849 at Progressive Field. Perhaps the mistake rattled Battenfield, because he immediately threw a wild pitch that moved Vázquez to second base.

Then he made a far bigger mistake.

After building a full count to Kepler by working the edges of the plate, Battenfield left his next cutter right in the center of the strike zone. Kepler's swing drove it a dozen rows into the right-field seats, a place where Kepler has deposited several baseballs during his career.

"I did think there was going to be something on the corners, and I guess he just left it over the middle," said Kepler, whose 15th career home run at Progressive Field is the fifth-most by a visiting player in the park's 30-year history. "It's a good place to hit for lefties. You see it well, and you just try to pull it to right and see what happens."

It turned out to be the only run-producing moment of the night, in part because of the strong pitching, particularly by Ober, who was crowded out of the rotation and set to the minors after spring training. He has returned with a pair of starts in which he gave up one run, and now seven shutout innings against the Twins' chief AL Central rival.

"All my stuff was working down there. I was locating. I was calm. Heart rate wasn't super high," Ober said. "Then after the first inning, I was just able to carry that in there and build off the previous inning and keep going."

He retired 11 hitters without allowing a hit, until Josh Naylor's two-out double in the fourth. That neither he nor Battenfield had allowed a hit "was in the back of my mind, yeah," Ober admitted, "but you've just got to move on and keep pitching."

The Guardians' best chance to score against Ober, whose ERA after three major league starts this year dropped to 0.98, came in his final inning, when José Ramirez led off with a line drive that glanced off of Carlos Correa's glove as he leapt for it. After a flyout, Ramirez moved to second base on a grounder that Ober fielded.

Then came Oscar Gonzalez, who hit a high chopper to Ober's right. The 6-foot-9 pitcher reached high to field it, but his throw to first base was late and pulled Donovan Solano off the bag.

"I felt like it was up in the sky forever [and] when it was up there, I was looking straight into the lights, so I had to take my time and turn and try to find Donnie over at first," Ober said. "He had great instincts to throw it home."

He did, because Solano noticed that Ramirez rounded third and never stopped. Solano fired the ball to Vázquez, who applied the inning-ending tag.