SAN DIEGO (AP) -Mat Latos got the San Diego Padres through eight scoreless innings, then stood on the top step of the dugout and watched as the offense took over.
David Eckstein doubled in Tony Gwynn Jr. from first base with two outs in the eighth to break a scoreless tie, leading Latos and the Padres over the Houston Astros 3-0 on Friday night.
Latos (9-4) won his fourth straight decision, holding Houston to four singles and striking out seven, with no walks, in eight innings. He improved to 8-1 with a 1.62 ERA in his last 11 starts, a run that started with a 7-0 win at Houston on May 7. It was San Diego's 11th shutout, tying the New York Mets for the big league lead.
Latos outpitched Roy Oswalt, who also struck out seven while holding San Diego to three singles and two walks in seven innings.
``I think it's an extra push, an extra adrenaline rush for me to go out there and keep going toe-to-toe with Roy,' Latos said. ``I was able to command the strike zone. It was a pitcher's duel going back and forth up until the later innings. It kind of accelerates your adrenaline to go out there and keep putting up zeros.'
Latos ``has been on a nice roll,' manager Bud Black said. ``He's been matching up with some pretty good pitchers and tonight was another matchup where you knew it was going to be a duel. He matched Oswalt pitch for pitch and was outstanding in that regard. Big pat on the back for Mat.'
Astros reliever Brandon Lyon (5-2) came on to start the eighth and retired Everth Cabrera and Matt Stairs, who was pinch-hitting for Latos. Gwynn fouled a ball off his right leg just below his knee, then singled to left and came around on Eckstein's double into the left-field corner.
After Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked, Tim Byrdak came on and walked Chase Headley before allowing Scott Hairston's two-run single to left. Headley overran second base and was thrown out.
``We feel comfortable in those games,' Gwynn said.
Especially when Latos is pitching.
``He's a bulldog,' Gwynn said. ``He gets up there and he doesn't care who's up there, he executes his pitches. Just like it was on our end, they had to go through the same thing today.'
Heath Bell pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save in 25 chances.
Latos has held Houston scoreless in 16 innings this season, with 16 strikeouts and no walks.
``Their guy, that's the second time against us he's thrown the ball extremely well,' Astros manager Brad Mills said. ``It was a pitching duel and they got the hits when it counted.'
Oswalt came in with a 10-2 record against San Diego. He has allowed three or fewer runs in 13 of his last 15 starts against the Padres.
``I made some pitches and was able to go seven and keep them off the board,' Oswalt said. ``They had a few opportunities, but I made some good pitches. Their guy pitched pretty well, too.'
He also came in receiving the fourth-lowest run support in the majors at 2.94 runs per game.
Oswalt retired the first 11 Padres batters before walking Gonzalez and allowing Headley's single to center. Hairston forced Headley to end the inning.
The Padres had runners on second and third with two outs in the fifth before Gwynn struck out.
``Both Roy and Latos were as advertised,' Houston's Hunter Pence said. ``Latos had his fastball moving pretty good. What I noticed was his late movement was pretty good. I felt like I was right on it and I would pound it into the ground.'
NOTES: Friday was the one-year anniversary of the game between the Astros and Padres that was delayed 52 minutes in the top of the ninth inning after a swarm of bees took over left field at Petco Park. ... The Astros optioned OF Jason Bourgeois to Triple-A Round Rock to make room on the roster for SS Angel Sanchez, who was acquired from Boston on Thursday. Sanchez started Friday night. ... Mills said INF Geoff Blum has loose bodies in his right elbow. Mills said Blum felt his elbow pop while putting on his shirt following Thursday night's game. Blum visited a doctor Friday afternoon and is expected to miss three to five days.
The Associated Press News Service
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