Astros pull away from Padres for eighth win in nine games
By Corey Brock and Brian McTaggart
SAN DIEGO -- The Astros scored six runs over the final three innings Monday night, breaking away for a 9-4 victory over the Padres before a crowd of 19,532 at Petco Park for their eighth win in nine games.
"I wouldn't have guessed the 9-4 game after the way the starting pitchers were throwing the first third of the game," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We made Shields work a little bit and they obviously caught up to McHugh a little bit in the mid-game. What started out as a pretty good pitcher's duel ended in quite a bit of offense. The resiliency of our club, we continue to answer back when we get runs scored upon us, which is a good sign."
Houston was sporting a 3-0 lead in the fifth, but San Diego wouldn't go away, erasing two deficits on hits by Yangervis Solarte. After his two-out RBI single in the fifth capped a three-run inning that tied the score at 3, his RBI double in the seventh -- his third hit of the game -- tied the score at 4.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Redemption for Rasmus, Carter: After going a combined 0-for-6 with six strikeouts to start the game, Rasmus and Chris Carter came through with RBI hits in a three-run eighth inning that gave the Astros a 7-4 lead. After George Springer stole third and continued home on a throwing error to break a 4-4 tie, Rasmus' single scored Lowrie from second and Carter followed with an RBI double.
"You've got to stay with those guys," Hinch said. "They're one pitch away from impacting the game, as we saw tonight." More >
The one that got away: Padres shortstop Alexi Amarista couldn't hold onto a throw from catcher Derek Norris when Jake Marisnick stole second base in the fifth inning. Second-base umpire Clint Fagan was ready to call Marisnick out, but the ball popped out of Amarista's glove and he was charged with an error. That loomed big later as the Astros scored two unearned runs.
Fifth inning betrays McHugh: McHugh, who had won eight consecutive starts, was rolling along through four innings, allowing only a pair of infield hits. But it was a two-out infield hit by Shields in the fifth that extended an inning in which the Padres went on to score three times and tie the game.
"It's real frustrating not to be able to make that big pitch when you need it," McHugh said. "I'm used to being able to, at least the last little bit, being able to make those pitches." More >
Big arm James: Shields had his fastball-changeup combination working well, as he finished with a season-high 12 strikeouts, which is tied for the most by any pitcher this season. Shields leads the big leagues with 41 K's.
"I'm not too worried about strikeouts in my game. I'm worried about winning," Shields said. "It's my job to keep us in a game and give us a chance to win every night." More >
"We need to get on a little bit of a bullpen roll." -- Padres manager Bud Black, after his relievers allowed six runs over the final three inningsMore >
"I knew we had potential and probably would be going to go through some growing pains and a good part of our game is everybody's pulling on the same rope. Nobody's coming in here big ego." -- Rasmus, who went 2-for-5 with three RBIs
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Padres aren't necessarily looking for Wil Myers to lead the team in RBIs hitting leadoff. But after his two-run double Monday, he's tied with Matt Kemp for the team lead with 14 RBIs. Eight of his RBIs have come with two outs, including his big hit against McHugh.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Padres asked for a replay two batters into the bottom of the first inning, as Black used his manager's challenge to contest a 5-3 putout on Solarte's swinging bunt. The call was overturned and Solarte was given a single.
WHAT'S NEXT Padres:Tyson Ross (1-1, 3.97 ERA) makes his fifth start of the season -- but only his second at home -- on Tuesday night at 7:10 PT in the second game of a three-game Interleague series. This will be the first time in Ross' career that he's faced the Astros.
Astros: Houston will be looking for its first win in a game started by Roberto Hernandez this season. Hernandez (0-2, 3.57 ERA) hasn't pitched poorly, with two consecutive quality starts and his lowest ERA through three starts since 2008.