Harrell's 6-hitter leads Astros over Padres 1-0Houston Astros' Lucas Harrell delivers a pitch against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, June 27, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
HOUSTON (AP) -- Lucas Harrell hadn't finished cleaning out his ears from a cream pie to the face that he received after pitching his first complete game Wednesday night.
But first he stopped for a fist bump with left fielder J.D. Martinez and a hearty pat on catcher Chris Snyder's shoulders - a nod to the pair of Astros who made his big night possible.
Harrell pitched a six-hitter and Martinez threw out a runner at the plate in the ninth inning to preserve Houston's 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres.
''You can't say more about that throw in the last inning by J.D.,'' Harrell said. ''It's a big situation, he throws it right on the money and Snyder makes a great scoop and tag. It's one of those things where you just throw the ball, let them hit it and let everybody else do (the work).''
Matt Downs homered and Harrell finished it off by striking out Nick Hundley with the bases loaded.
''To see him pitch like he has and be able to do what he did tonight in a 1-0 game and to be able to get that complete game and throw like he did, that's pretty cool,'' Houston manager Brad Mills said. ''That's really cool.''
San Diego manager Bud Black was impressed with Harrell's work.
''It was another night of pressing them as best we could without scoring,'' Black said. ''They executed a play in the ninth and beat us. We didn't lose that game. The Astros beat us.''
The drive by Downs was one of only two hits by the Astros, who couldn't get anything else going against starter Clayton Richard (5-8).
''Baseball is a funny game,'' Richard said. ''Sometimes you pitch well and don't get the results you want. But that just goes to show how much of a team game this is. You have to have everything going to get wins.''
Harrell (7-6) allowed four hits through the first eight innings, but things got dicey for the rookie after that.
Chase Headley singled to start the ninth and San Diego had runners at first and second with one out when Logan Forsythe singled into shallow left. Pinch-runner Alexi Amarista headed for home, but Martinez scooped up the ball and fired to Snyder in time.
Martinez wasn't sure if he had him when he launched the throw.
''I knew the guy was fast,'' he said. ''I was just lucky that my outfield coach put me in good position, brought me in a little bit and gave me a much better chance to get to the ball quicker and make a much better throw on it.''
Pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay walked to load the bases, but Harrell hung tough and whiffed Hundley to end it.
Harrell was a bit amped up when he faced the last batter and pumped his fist when he saw Hundley's final swing.
''It was definitely a big thing for me,'' he said. ''That was my first big league complete game and it was just a little adrenaline running through me.''
Harrell struck out seven and walked four. Previously, his longest outing was 7 1-3 innings.
Richard struck out five in seven innings, but couldn't get any run support to back up his solid night on the mound.
Martinez singled for Houston's first hit to open the second inning. The homer by Downs started the third inning before Richard retired the next 15 batters he faced.
He was replaced by Dale Thayer for the eighth inning and he picked up where Richard left off, setting down the next three Astros to make it 18 in a row.
Yonder Alonso, who returned to the starting lineup after missing the last three games with a sore knee, singled with one out in the second. But Houston turned a double play in that inning before Harrell pitched a perfect third to face the minimum through the first three innings.
He got into a bit of a jam in the fourth after walking Everth Cabrera with one out before Carlos Quentin drew a two-out walk. Alonso grounded out to end the inning.
The Padres also threatened in the fifth after a single by Forsythe before Richard singled with two outs. Harrell escaped again with a groundout.
That was the start of Harrell retiring 10 of 11 batters. First baseman Carlos Lee helped his cause when he dived to stop a grounder by pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia with his body, and crawled to retrieve the dribbling ball as he extended his leg on the base for the first out of the eighth.
NOTES: Houston 2B Jose Altuve was out of the lineup for the third straight game with a strained right hamstring. ... The teams wrap up a four-game series Thursday when San Diego's Andrew Cashner faces left-hander Dallas Keuchel.