For the most part, the San Diego Padres have come out of the All-Star break swinging hot bats.
The Padres look to take three of four from the NL-worst Houston Astros when the teams conclude their series Thursday night.
San Diego ranks last in the majors with 3.6 runs per game, but has scored seven or more in four of its last six contests, including eight runs to win each of the last two games against Houston. The Padres (38-55) were shut out in the series opener.
Yonder Alonso hit a pair of doubles and drove in three runs in an 8-4 victory Wednesday.
"It was a good performance today with contributions all around the lineup," manager Bud Black said. "It's like we've talked about that it's going to take all of our guys to get it done, and today was a good example of a lineup contributing top to bottom."
Alonso continues to provide a spark in the lineup with 23 doubles this year. The rookie first baseman has hit two or more doubles in a game seven times this season - a franchise record.
With Wednesday's win, the Padres improved to 4-3 against the Astros (34-58). They are averaging 4.9 runs in the season series, with Alonso going 8 for 15 (.533) with three doubles and a home run. He has six RBIs in the last two games.
Despite winning Monday, Houston has lost 15 of 17, averaging 2.4 runs and hitting .203 over that stretch.
The Astros' tough season has only grown more frustrating this week with the news that Jed Lowrie will miss four to six weeks with a sprained ankle and a nerve injury to his right leg. The shortstop leads Houston with 14 homers and his 36 RBIs rank second on the club.
Lowrie was injured Saturday. The following day, the Astros placed catcher Jason Castro on the disabled list with pain in his knee.
The one bright spot for Houston on Wednesday was Matt Downs , who hit a pair of home runs and drove in all four runs.
"It's a great accomplishment I guess for me, but still, we lost, 8-4," Downs, who is hitting .191 in 115 at-bats this season, told the Astros' official website.
Houston will try to earn a split of the series against Edinson Volquez (5-7, 3.69 ERA), but that may be a tall order. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.53 ERA in seven career starts against the Astros - all with Cincinnati.
The Padres have won Volquez's last four starts, but he hasn't earned a decision in the last two. He gave up four runs, eight hits and four walks in five innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.
The Astros will end the series by giving the ball to Lucas Harrell (7-6, 4.43).
The right-hander was dominant against the Padres on June 27, pitching a six-hitter - his only career complete game - striking out seven and walking four in the Astros' 1-0 victory.
That shutout came at home, where Harrell's ERA is 1.99. He's 2-5 with a 6.21 ERA on the road. He did pitch effectively at San Francisco on Saturday, though, giving up one run in five innings of a game Houston lost 3-2 in 12.
|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 18, 2012||Cameron Maybin||Day-to-Day||Sore right wrist|
|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|
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Edinson Volquez has only his glove to blame for falling just short of the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history.
Volquez threw a one-hitter - an infield single in the fourth inning that bounced off his glove - for the first complete game and shutout of his career as the Padres beat the Houston Astros 1-0 on Thursday night.
Alexi Amarista doubled and Logan Forsythe singled in the first inning for the Padres, who won three of the four games in the series and have won five of six overall.
"I had a few in the minor leagues, but right now that doesn't count," Volquez said of complete games. "To do it in the major leagues, complete game, one-hit shutout, that was good."
Volquez shut down the Astros except for the infield single by Matt Downs , who hit a comebacker to the left side of the mound. Third baseman Chase Headley and Volquez converged on the ball but Volquez opted to attempt to snare the ball but dropped it. Volquez did not attempt to throw out Downs at first base.
"I've got to work on my backhand," Volquez said. "I was supposed to catch that ball. I've got fielding practice tomorrow, I've got to work on that. He hit it in the right spot."
Downs was just glad to avoid history.
"You look back and you're glad he didn't no-hit you," Downs said.
In becoming the first Padres pitcher to throw a one-hitter at Petco Park, Volquez struck out five and walked three, throwing 118 pitches, 76 for strikes. It was the Padres' second complete game of the season and sixth shutout.
"He's been pretty good lately," Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal said. "Sometimes the walks kill him, but that was one thing he didn't do tonight was walk too many guys. It seemed like every time he fell behind he came back, so that's something he needs to keep doing. He's a really good pitcher when he allows himself to be."
Volquez is the third Padrer to throw a shutout at Petco Park. Jake Peavy did so on Aug. 23, 2005 also against Houston, and Ismael Valdez did on June 5, 2004, against Milwaukee.
"A couple of hiccups with maybe a couple of walks, but his stuff was good," Padres manager Bud Black said. "They didn't hit many balls hard. He was in command of the game. Those are tough games, because when the score is 1-0, every pitch is critical."
The win improved Volquez's career record against the Astros to 6-0.
"I think we had four or five well-hit balls, right on the button - and that happens," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "At the same time, you would like to get something started against him."
Rookie Lucas Harrell (7-7), who threw a shutout against San Diego on June 27 in Houston, gave up four hits and struck out six while walking one in seven innings.
"With our offense, I feel like we can score enough runs if I can keep it close," Harrell said.
Amarista, playing in center field for the injured Cameron Maybin , has hit safely in 16 of 17 games, batting .387 over that stretch.
Forsythe nearly started a triple play in the second inning. Scott Maxwell hit a line drive that the second baseman leaped to catch. He threw to Everth Cabrera to double up J.D. Martinez at second and Cabrera threw to first but Downs dived to beat the ball to the base and prevent the triple play.
Houston is batting .197 over the past 15 games and the club has had five hits or fewer 10 times in its last 18 games. The Astros were the victim when Matt Cain threw a perfect game on July 13 in San Francisco.
"It's going to turn here, and it's going to turn here quick," Mills said. "We're looking forward to it turning tomorrow night in Arizona."
This game marked the last non-interleague meeting between the Astros and Padres as Houston will move to the American League West in 2013.
NOTES: Mills said C Jason Castro , who is on the DL, had "really good range of motion" after his swollen knee was drained Wednesday. ... Maybin was out of the lineup for the second straight game because of a sore wrist. Black said he doubts Maybin will be a candidate for the DL ... Bud Norris will pitch for Houston when they open a three-game series in Arizona on Friday against Trevor Cahill (7-8, 3.71). San Diego's Jason Marquis (2-5, 3.62) will pitch in the opener of a three-game series against Colorado's Drew Pomeranz (1-4, 3.79).