Padres 5, Astros 3

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SAN DIEGO (AP)—The San Diego Padres are looking far more comfortable in their new home these days.

Brian Giles and Mark Loretta hit solo home runs, five pitchers combined on a five-hitter and the Padres won their eighth straight at home with a 5-3 win over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

San Diego struggled to score and win throughout much of the first half of their inaugural season at Petco Park.

“Playing well at home, it’s a huge key to a winning season,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’re starting to swing the bats better and pitch better. And the fans are behind us and you can feel it down on the field.”

The Padres improved to 25-17 at home.

Terrence Long hit a two-run double in the first inning to spark the NL West leaders to their fifth consecutive victory and 12th in their last 15 games.

“We know how important it is to win at home if we want to win the division,” Giles said.

The Padres got hits from all but one regular in the lineup as they played their second straight game with Phil Nevin, their top power hitter, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Monday.

Nevin, who has 14 home runs and 53 RBIs, is expected to be out 10 days to two weeks.

“That kind of hitting is contagious,” Giles said. “With Nevin not in there, we all have to pick it up.”

Ryan Klesko, who has replaced Nevin in the cleanup spot, had two hits and scored a run.

“This team is well rounded,” Klesko said. “We can afford to lose one guy for a little bit because everyone will step it up a bit. The confidence is there.”

Ismael Valdez (7-5) combined with four relievers on a five-hitter to win for the second time in six starts. Valdez allowed three runs—two earned—and four hits in five innings.

Blaine Neal, Scott Linebrink, Akinori Otsuka pitched one inning each before Trevor Hoffman finished off the Houston with a hitless ninth for his 22nd save.

“It’s a nice luxury to have with three guys—and now, four with Neal— throwing well in the bullpen,” Bochy said. “We all have confidence in them late in the ballgame.”

The Astros dropped to a season-low nine games behind first-place St. Louis in the NL Central with their third straight loss.

“We have to win some games,” Houston’s Lance Berkman said. “We’ve been saying that for a while, but we haven’t been able to do that.”

Pete Munro (1-2) gave up four runs and seven hits in four innings.

“They took advantage of some mistakes early,” Munro said. “I left a couple of pitches up and over the plate, and they took care of the mistakes.”

Long’s double and Giles’ third-inning homer built a 3-0 lead for the Padres.

Jeff Bagwell hit a two-run single with two outs in the fourth on a liner to center that Jay Payton misjudged and allowed to skip under his glove. Bagwell took third on the error, but Morgan Ensberg lined out.

Khalil Greene’s RBI single made it 4-2 in the bottom half, but Brad Ausmus homered leading off the fifth to make it 4-3.

Loretta, selected to his first NL All-Star team on Monday, connected offreliever Mike Gallo in the fifth.


Before his double, Long was batting .083 (3-for-36) with runners in scoring position. … 2B Chris Burke, Houston’s first-round pick in the 2001amateur draft, made his first major league start.

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