Although six weeks still remain in the regular season, it appears the wild card may be the San Diego Padres’ easiest route back into the playoffs.
Peavy, whose only mistake was a solo home run by Lance Berkman in the third inning, gave up four hits in seven innings with two walks and 11 strikeouts.
Berkman snapped a 1-1 tie with a two-run homer off Heath Bell in the eighth inning for his first multihomer game of the season.
“It’s nice to get a few hits and finally contribute,” said Berkman, who is batting .462 (12-for-26) in his last seven games and has 23 homers in 2007.
Adrian Gonzalez had three hits for San Diego (65-56), which dropped into a tie with Philadelphia for the wild card lead, and fell four games behind NL West-leading Arizona. The Diamondbacks beat Atlanta 4-0 earlier on Friday for their 20th win in 25 games.
The Padres have split the first four games of this homestand, which concludes Sunday. Their next six contests are on the road against the East-leading New York Mets and Philadelphia before they return home for four against the Diamondbacks.
After managing little offense Friday, San Diego - batting a major league-worst .243 - figures to have just as difficult a time against Oswalt (13-6, 3.32 ERA), who is 5-0 with an 0.82 ERA in his last five starts, walking eight and striking out 26 in that span.
He turned in another dominant performance Monday in a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, giving up one run and six hits in eight innings.
“It feels great, especially when you know you can make a quality pitch when you need it,” Oswalt said. “The more you pitch, the more you learn to try to keep the pitch count down, not try to strike out too many guys and get double plays when you can.”
Oswalt, though, is only 5-5 with a 5.04 ERA in 11 road starts this season.
Pitching at San Diego, however, has not been a problem for him. Oswalt is 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA in three career road starts against the Padres, and is 7-1 with a 2.26 ERA in eight overall outings against them.
In spite of its unimpressive record, Houston (55-67) is only 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the weak NL Central.
Astros right fielder Luke Scott missed his second straight start after re-aggravating his strained groin Wednesday in a 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Scott is batting .367 (11-for-30) with 10 RBIs in his last 11 games.
Justin Germano (6-6, 4.16) hopes to post his first win in more than a month for the Padres. Since winning four straight starts from May 13-June 2, the right-hander has only two wins in his last 12 outings. Germano is 0-3 with a 5.81 ERA in five starts since beating Arizona on July 15.
He did not receive a decision in San Diego’s 8-3 loss at Cincinnati on Aug. 11 despite limiting the Reds to one run and five hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Germano, who has never faced the Astros, is 2-4 with a 5.52 ERA in eight home starts. He is 0-4 with a 7.26 ERA in six starts there since his last win on May 26.