Aside from a disappointing showing in the opener of this week's four-game set, the San Diego Padres are starting to show signs of improvement.
They'll try to keep playing well Wednesday afternoon against the major league-worst Houston Astros , losers of 14 of 16.
After going 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position during Monday's 2-0 loss, San Diego (37-55) bounced back with an 8-2 victory Tuesday. Ross Ohlendorf improved to 3-0 with six strong innings and Yonder Alonso went 2 for 3 with his first homer at Petco Park. Batting .407 with 16 RBIs in his last 15 games, Alexi Amarista matched a career high with three hits.
While San Diego ranks last in the majors with 328 runs, it's picked up the pace of late. The Padres, winners of nine of 14, have scored at least seven runs in three of their last four games.
"I think the past month has been a lot better," Alonso said. "The younger guys, especially myself, are more comfortable. You're seeing it from the younger guys, we're having better at-bats. If you have a group of guys having good at-bats against a pitcher, any time you do that, it just gets better and better."
The Astros (34-57) snapped a 13-game road losing streak with Monday's win, but failed to keep the momentum going. Houston has been outscored 78-37 and is batting .152 with runners in scoring position during its 2-14 overall skid.
The Astros could hard a time again Wednesday versus Padres starter Clayton Richard (6-10, 3.83 ERA). The left-hander is 4-3 with a 2.68 ERA over his last seven starts, allowing more than three earned runs just once in that stretch.
Richard, who threw seven innings of one-run ball during a 1-0 loss at Houston on June 27, suffered another hard-luck defeat Friday in a 2-1 road loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers . He gave up two runs and five hits in 7 1-3 innings.
"It's disappointing to throw well and just come up a little bit short," he said. "I just want to continue to progress and keep on getting better as a starting pitcher, get deep into games and give our team a chance to win."
Richard will be opposed by Wandy Rodriguez (7-7, 3.51), who wasn't very sharp Friday in his first outing following the All-Star break, allowing four runs and seven hits over six innings of a 5-1 loss at San Francisco.
The left-hander had gone 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA over his previous four starts versus San Diego before surrendering five runs in 6 2-3 innings of Houston's 8-7, 10-inning loss June 25.
Despite going 3-3 with a 5.23 ERA over his last nine outings, Rodriguez's name continues to come up in trade rumors. He appears likely to be moved prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
It's unknown if Rodriguez will have to face Carlos Quentin . The San Diego left fielder, who made his season debut May 28, has missed the last two games with soreness in his surgically repaired right knee. Quentin batted .322 with seven homers in his first 26 games, but is 5 for 37 (.135) with one home run in his last 10.
|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) -- Yonder Alonso 's propensity for hitting doubles helped his team to another win.
Alonso went 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs and the San Diego Padres used a five-run fourth inning to beat the Houston Astros 8-4 on Wednesday.
With two more doubles on Wednesday, Alonso has 23 this year and has hit two or more in a game seven times this season, which is a franchise record. Adrian Gonzalez and Tony Gwynn held the previous mark with six each.
"That's pretty unique," Alonso said. "It feels good when you're in the company of those guys. I knew what was going on and the guys on the team were making jokes about it. It's a cool moment for myself."
Clayton Richard (7-10) allowed four runs in 8 1-3 innings to snap a two-game losing streak. The left-hander gave up nine hits, including two home runs by Matt Downs and struck out two.
"It's so nice to have that type of padding in the game," Richard said. "You know you can make a couple of mistakes."
Richard fell short of his first career complete game and added an RBI double in the sixth.
"When you come to the ballpark as a starting pitcher, that's what you want to do," Richard said. "It's disappointing not making a few pitches at the end there to go through with it."
The Padres won for the fourth time in five games.
"It was a good performance today with contributions all around the lineup," Padres 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."
After Carlos Corporan singled to chase Richard in the ninth, Nick Vincent got one out, but walked Jordan Schafer to put the tying run on deck. Huston Street entered and struck out Scott Moore to convert his 15th save.
"We've talked about Clayton's work ethic and what he does between starts, and he's equipped for a complete game," Black said. "I was pulling hard for him."
Downs' three-run home run in the sixth landed in the first deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field. He hit a solo shot off Richard in the ninth, also to left and has three home runs against Richard this season. Houston has lost 14 of 15 games on the road.
"He's very good," Downs said of Richard. "I think it's just he made two mistakes and I think they were both to me."
After Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez retired the first nine batters, the Padres broke through in the fourth.
The first six batters reached base, highlighted by Alonso's and Chris Denorfia 's run-scoring hits. Rodriguez also walked two in the inning and threw a wild pitch as San Diego built a 5-0 lead.
"It's kind of tough to put your full finger on," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "That's kind of been his Achilles' heel, being able to stop those from getting started."
Rodriguez (7-8) allowed five runs and four hits over four innings, snapping a streak of 48 games in which the left-hander had lasted at least five innings.
"He didn't want to come out of the game, but we had to try to get a run on the board," Mills said.
Alonso's double in the seventh scored Denorfia and gave San Diego an 8-3 lead. Chase Headley scored on a Houston defensive breakdown in the fifth as Enerio Del Rosario threw wide of first base on an attempted pickoff. Headley ran to third and Downs skipped the ball past Chris Johnson as Headley scored.
Notes: Padres CF Cameron Maybin was scratched from the starting lineup with soreness in his right wrist. ... Astros C Jason Castro was to have his knee drained on Wednesday but is not expected to join the team this week. ... Lucas Harrell (7-6, 4.43 ERA) will take the mound for Houston in the final game of the series on Thursday. Edinson Volquez (5-7, 3.69) will start for San Diego.