HOUSTON (AP)—The Houston Astros started the Phil Garner era pretty much the same way they left off under manager Jimy Williams.
“We’re disappointed,” the Astros’ Jeff Bagwell said. “But if anyone thought we were gonna win 74 games in a row, that’s not going to happen.”
Garner, who managed Milwaukee and Detroit to a combined 708-802 record during parts of 11 seasons, replaced Williams on Wednesday, the day after Houston hosted the All-Star game.
The Astros lost for the seventh time in nine games, dropping to 44-45 and falling under .500 for the first time since they were 1-2 on April 7. Houston also fell a season-high 12 games behind NL Central-leading St. Louis, which has won 10 of 11 games.
“We just didn’t get anything rolling,” Garner said. “But I’m encouraged. I saw some good things out there tonight.”
The crowd of 39,106 obviously disagreed, booing throughout the game. Thousands of fans headed for the exits at the end of the sixth inning.
San Diego, the fifth-worst scoring team in the majors, did more than enough to hold off the slumping Astros.
Peavy (6-3), who struggled against Houston on July 7 in his second start after coming off the DL, allowed one run and six hits in five-plus innings.
“I was able to hit it hard enough to get it over Carlos’ head,” Loretta said. “I was nervous because I thought he might be able to run it down.”
Ryan Klesko and Jeff Cirillo added run-scoring doubles in the fifth and sixth for a 5-0 lead.
Andy Pettitte (5-3), who left the New York Yankees to pitch for his hometown Astros, hasn’t won in Houston since May 15. He allowed four runs and seven hits over five innings in his first career start against San Diego.
“I’m just not getting it done,” Pettitte said. “I’m very disappointed in the way I pitched out there tonight. It’s a bad time to be doing that right now. It puts too much pressure on the team.”
Beltran hit an RBI triple in the sixth, and Houston loaded the bases. But Scott Linebrink relieved Peavy and retired Jeff Bagwell on a flyout, then struck out Brad Ausmus and got Adam Everett on another flyout.
“He saved us,” San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s done a great job all year. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Linebrink, who was waived by the Astros last season, couldn’t suppress a smile as he discussed his performance.
“It’s sweet,” Linebrink said. “But to do it against your old team, it makes it that much more sweet.”
After the game, only Garner wore a smile in Houston’s clubhouse as he tried to put a positive spin on the Astros’ latest failure.
“It’s out of our system,” Garner said, “and we’re ready to go on.”
San Diego RF Brian Giles went 0-for-4, snapping a season-long, 10-game hitting streak. … Pettitte threw a ball past home plate in the third but Ausmus scrambled to retrieve it and flipped the ball to Pettitte, who tagged out Jay Payton. … Beltran had his first hit in Houston after going 0-for-11 in a three-game series against Texas last week.