HOUSTON (AP) - For six innings, J.A. Happ was able to keep up with Aaron Harang.
But in the seventh the Padres pieced together three straight hits off the lefty and scored three times to take the lead and hang on for a 4-2 win over the Astros on Friday night.
Happ (1-2) went seven innings, giving up four runs on seven hits with three strikeouts.
``Happ battled and pitched really well,' Astros manager Brad Mills said. ``You really can't say enough. The seventh inning came up and bit him. They got some good swings on the ball. Once they got some guys on, we kind of positioned ourselves to try to stop them from scoring any more runs, but they were able to push three across.'
Nick Hundley started the seventh with a single, and Chris Denorfia, who had homered in the fifth, doubled. They both came home on a two-run single by Ryan Ludwick. Eric Patterson added a sacrifice fly after that to up the lead to 4-1.
``I felt good. I felt like I was throwing the ball well,' Happ said. ``I threw a couple balls in there in the seventh. They weren't necessarily bad pitches, but maybe they weren't executed the way I would have liked. It's frustrating.'
Happ, who gave up a run in 7 2-3 innings in his last start, never had a 1-2-3 inning, but got good defense from Carlos Lee, who had two outfield assists, and from his infield, which turned two double plays.
Happ threw just 86 pitches.
``He was making some pitches,' Mills said. ``The guys were making some plays. Carlos making the two throws were big for us. He was efficient and throwing strikes. He was keeping them off balanced. Denorfia put the good swing on the home run and double.'
Happ said he felt like he could have pitched the entire game the way he was going.
``I was feeling good, my pitch count was good,' Happ said. ``I was getting ahead and getting groundballs for the most part. They got those two balls that dropped in there, and then the big hit. I was trying to get ahead with a strike, and I threw it down the middle, and he jumped on it.'
The Astros couldn't get anything going off Harang. The Padres starter allowed just one run on three hits over six innings and struck out eight. At one point, Harang (3-0) sent down 16 of 17 batters.
``He's a veteran, and he knows what he's doing up there,' Astros first baseman Brett Wallace said of Harang. ``He keeps you off balanced. He has four pitches that he mixes well together.'
Houston still had a chance to tie it late against Padres closer Heath Bell bringing the tying run up in the bottom of the ninth, but Jason Michaels flew out to center to end it.
Despite the chance to tie late and Happ keeping Houston in the game, the Astros never really threatened against the Padres.
``Happ threw great. He gave up four in seven innings,' Wallace said. ``That's a quality start, so hopefully, we give him more runs than that. The Padres have a great staff, and they showed that tonight.'
NOTES: Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, who played both with and against Jackie Robinson, was in Houston to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day. He, along with several former Astros players met with current players Bourn, Bill Hall and Jason Bourgeois for a reception before the game. Irvin, who is 92, was pleased to take part in the celebration. ``He was a wonderful pioneer,' Irvin said. ``He did a great job of integrating baseball and not only did he make it better in baseball, but he made it better in all the sports.' ... Astros SS Clint Barmes, on the disabled list with a broken left hand, said his recovery is going well and will have X-rays on Monday with hopes to begin a rehabilitation stint in the minors soon.
The Associated Press News Service
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