The Houston Astros are on the verge of the longest single-season road losing streak in franchise history but might have a favorable matchup in their attempt to avoid that dubious feat.
A 3-2 loss to San Francisco on Sunday was Houston's 13th in a row away from home, and matched losing streaks from June 1990 and April 1969.
"We want to fix this road thing we have going on," third baseman Chris Johnson told the team's website. "There is still time for us to turn it around. We have to start playing better baseball on the road and figure out how to win these close games."
The Astros (33-56) have batted .202 and been outscored 70-33 while losing 13 of 14 overall, a stretch that began with a 7-3 home loss to San Diego (36-54) on June 28.
Houston had won two of the first three games in that series, including a 5-3 victory on June 26. Wells (1-2, 2.50 ERA) was called up from Triple-A Tucson before that game for his first start in the majors since Oct. 1, 2009.
The right-hander, who was signed to a minor league deal with San Diego on May 8, gave up five runs - two earned - over five innings and didn't help himself with a pair of miscues in his final frame. He made an errant throw on a potential double-play grounder and his wild pitch led to the first of four runs in that inning.
After throwing seven scoreless innings in Colorado on July 1, Wells allowed three runs - on a pair of homers - over six innings in a 6-0 defeat to Cincinnati five days later.
"For the most part, they barreled a couple balls, but by and large they hit (two) home runs off me and were within five feet of still being in the field of play, so that's kind of unfortunate, but it happens," he told the team's website.
Wells is 4-10 with a 5.38 ERA in 19 career starts against his hometown team and 0-4 with a 7.67 ERA in his last five. In this matchup, he'll pitch opposite J.A. Happ (6-9, 5.14), who struggled in his most recent outing after a promising stretch.
The left-hander was 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his three starts before a 7-1 loss to Milwaukee on July 6. He was tagged for seven runs - including a career high-tying three homers - over 6 1-3 innings in that game.
Happ was 0-2 with a 4.85 ERA in two starts against the Padres last season, and Chris Denorfia went 3 for 5 with two homers against him in those games.
San Diego enters this series after scoring a combined 14 runs in back-to-back victories over the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend. The Padres had scored eight runs while dropping their four previous contests.
San Diego has won six of the past seven home matchups with Houston.
|July 15, 2012||Jed Lowrie||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|July 14, 2012||Jed Lowrie||Day-to-Day||Right ankle|
|July 08, 2012||Jason Castro||15-Day DL||Fluid in right knee|
|June 26, 2012||Justin Maxwell||15-Day DL||Loose bodies in left ankle|
|June 26, 2012||Justin Maxwell||15-Day DL||Loose bodies in left ankle|
|June 24, 2012||Jose Altuve||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right hamstring|
|San Diego Padres|
|July 04, 2012||Andrew Cashner||15-Day DL||Strained muscle in right side|
|June 21, 2012||Anthony Bass||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 10, 2012||Cameron Maybin||Day-to-Day||Left game - Sprained neck|
|June 04, 2012||Will Venable||Day-to-Day||Strained right oblique|
|June 04, 2012||Eric Stults||15-Day DL||Strained left latissimus dorsi muscle|
|May 31, 2012||Andy Parrino||15-Day DL||Sore right hand|
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- J.A. Happ and the Houston bullpen ended a long road losing streak for the Astros.
Happ and three relievers combined on a five-hitter, Scott Moore drove in two runs and Houston beat the San Diego Padres 2-0 Monday night to snap a 13-game slide away from home.
Jose Altuve doubled and scored twice to help Houston stop its longest road skid since dropping 14 straight in 1997.
"Everybody has been talking about what's been going on on the road and so forth, but we just needed to play good baseball, and we did tonight," Astros manager Brad Mills said.
Happ (7-9) allowed a double in the first to Alexi Amarista but retired his next 12 batters. The left-hander gave up four hits over 6 1-3 innings while striking out four and walking one.
"I was trying to work quick and get ahead of those guys," Happ said. "I just wanted to keep the ball down in the zone, and for the most part we were able to do that. I felt like I was definitely hitting the corners pretty good tonight."
Jesus Guzman hit a one-out double off the left-center wall in the seventh and Logan Forsythe drew a walk to chase Happ, who threw 86 pitches in the opener of a four-game series.
Mills acknowledged it was a difficult decision to pull Happ.
"It was very tough," the manager said. "Sure enough, he didn't want to come out of the game, but pitchers never want to come out. His command, to me, seemed to be going at that time. I didn't want him to get behind the next hitter and have to lay a ball in there. That was the situation."
Fernando Rodriguez walked Cameron Maybin to load the bases, but Rodriguez struck out Everth Cabrera and induced a fly ball from pinch-hitter Yonder Alonso to end the threat.
"We did enough tonight to win," Happ said. "We made some great defensive plays, too. That helped."
Wilton Lopez allowed a one-out single in the eighth to Amarista, who stole second. Lopez, however, retired Chase Headley and Yasmani Grandal on groundouts.
Brett Myers worked around a two-out infield single by Cameron Maybin in the ninth for his 19th save in 21 chances.
"(Happ) did a good job of coming right at us," Padres third baseman Chase Headley said. "He was throwing strikes right from the start. I felt like we were playing defense for three quarters of the game, like we weren't on offense at all. He did a really good job."
San Diego went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and was shut out for the ninth time this season and fifth time at home. Houston (34-56), which has the fewest wins in the majors, recorded its fifth shutout.
Padres starter Kip Wells (1-3) yielded two runs and three hits in 4 1-3 innings. Wells, facing Houston for the second time in four starts this season, walked five and hit two batters with pitches while striking out two.
"I just didn't throw enough fastballs to find a rhythm for them," Wells said. "I felt, in looking back, I should've worked off my fastball more than I did."
Altuve's double to center in the first sailed past Maybin, who took a few steps in before turning and chasing the ball to the wall.
"I think the ball was hit harder than he thought," Padres manager Bud Black said.
Altuve also walked in the third and stole second. Both times he scored on a sacrifice fly by Moore.
"Jose is obviously doing the job in front of me," Moore said. "Fortunately, I was in the situation with less than two outs and a runner on third. It was a good win for J.A. and a good win for us. J.A. pounded the strike zone and really went after those guys and didn't give them room to breathe. He did a really good job."
NOTES: San Diego outfielder Carlos Quentin was scratched from the starting lineup due to a knee injury. He is unlikely to play on Tuesday. ... Amarista started in left field in place of Quentin. ... Altuve was hit in the hand by a pitch from Wells in the fifth but stayed in the game and is not expected to miss any time.