Garland will try to continue his turnaround for the Padres on Saturday night when they face the punchless Astros in the second of a three-game set.
Latos allowed two hits over eight innings, struck out a career-high nine, and added a run-scoring double Friday in San Diego’s 7-0 win. The right-hander threw 107 pitches before being replaced by Ryan Webb(notes).
“I know the reasons for why (manager Bud Black) wouldn’t let me go in. They want to keep my pitch count down, keep my innings down. Eight (innings) is fine, I’ll take it,” Latos said.
Scott Hairston(notes) homered twice and Chase Headley(notes) also went deep for San Diego (18-11), which snapped a five-game skid in Houston and moved past San Francisco into first place in the NL West.
Pedro Feliz(notes) and Carlos Lee(notes) had the only hits off Latos for the NL’s worst team. Houston (9-20) was blanked for the fifth time this season, and lost for the 10th time in 11 games, averaging 1.82 runs in that span.
“There are a whole lot of factors that converge to create this snowball that is rolling downhill right now,” said first baseman Lance Berkman(notes), who’s hitting .185. “Guys want to get something done, so they try harder, and do worse.
“Then the guy that comes after him tries harder, and they do worse. And then the pitcher senses we’re not swinging the bats well, so he gets more confident.”
Garland (3-2, 2.06 ERA) will be the next pitcher to try and extend the Astros’ woes. After going 11-13 with a 4.01 ERA for division rivals Los Angeles and Arizona last season, and getting off to a slow start in 2010, Garland has improved greatly.
While winning his last three starts, the right-hander has allowed two runs and 12 hits in 20 innings. That’s in stark contrast to his first three starts in which Garland was tagged for 13 runs - six earned - and 16 hits over 15 innings.
Facing Milwaukee on Sunday, Garland walked a season high-tying five, but yielded only three hits over seven innings in the 8-0 win.
“Early on I think I got away with a few and then I started dialing it in a little better as the game went on,” he said. “If you can put it where you want it, then they put it in play on the ground or pop it up, lazy fly ball, anything to do to get an out, it’s working out.”
Garland is 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA in five career regular-season starts against Houston, and also beat the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Game 3 of the 2005 World Series while with Chicago.
The right-hander has yet to go beyond the sixth inning in five starts this year, and has had enormous difficulty locating the strike zone, walking 18 in 27 2-3 innings. Paulino issued four bases on balls, and gave up four runs over six innings Monday in a 9-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.