Padres 7, Astros 4

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HOUSTON (AP)—Mark Loretta is making sure Phil Garner doesn’t engineer a quick turnaround for the reeling Houston Astros.

The Padres’ All-Star hit a two-run homer to spark a five-run fifth inning, and David Wells won his third straight decision in the San Diego Padres’ 7-4 victory Saturday.

“Loretta is hot right now,” Garner said. “We’ve got our work cut out trying to not let him do that to us anymore.”

Garner is still looking for his first win as Houston’s manager, two games after replacing Jimy Williams. The Astros (44-46) have dropped four straight and eight of 10, falling two games below .500 for the first time since they were 0-2 on April 6. They remained a season-high 12 games behind NL Central-leading St. Louis.

Loretta, who played with the Astros for 21 games in 2002, kept his former team tumbling. Sean Burroughs led off the game with a single and scored when Loretta doubled on the fourth pitch of the game. Loretta scored on Terrence Long’s sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.

San Diego blew open the game with a five-run fifth. After Craig Biggio misjudged Burroughs’ drive to left for an RBI double that bounced to the wall, Loretta hit a two-run homer on the next pitch.

Loretta tied his season high with three RBIs for the second straight day.

“I like it here. I really enjoy this ballpark,” said Loretta, who leads NL second basemen with a .327 batting average. “It has a good feel. I wouldn’t mind playing a lot more games here.”

Consecutive singles by Brian Giles, Ryan Klesko and Terrence Long made it 6-0 and chased Roy Oswalt, and Chad Harville entered and threw a run-scoring wild pitch.

“The fifth inning was the difference in the game,” San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said. “Loretta jump-started us. It was good that we got a cushion in that big inning.”

Wells (5-5) gave up three runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings, and Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 27 chances.

That was more than enough to hold off a team that’s scored five or more runs only once in the past 11 games.

Garner figures the Astros are due for an offensive outburst any game now.

“It exploded on us in a hurry,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing I expect us to do in the future. Better days are coming.”

Oswalt (8-8), who beat San Diego on July 7 for his fourth straight winning decision over the Padres, gave up seven runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings. It was only the second time in his career that he’s allowed seven or more earned runs.

Jason Lane hit an RBI grounder in the bottom of the fifth, Lance Berkman hit a two-run homer in the sixth and Jeff Bagwell homered in the eighth, his 12th of the season but first in 81 at-bats.

“I think our offense has shown some signs of putting it together,” Berkman said. “I just can’t imagine us not putting it together pretty soon. If we can turn it around quickly enough, we can get back in this thing.”


Oswalt and Wells equaled their shortest starts of the season Saturday. … Bagwell’s 431st homer tied Cal Ripken Jr. for 32nd place. … Berkman, who finished second in the All-Star Home Run Derby, was mired in a drought, too. His homer was his first in a month.

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