Padres-Astros Preview

The Associated Press

The Houston Astros' offense is showing some signs of life, but it squandered several scoring opportunities in losing the opener to the San Diego Padres.

The Astros will try to bounce back Tuesday night and give the Padres' Kip Wells a rude welcome back to the big leagues.

Wells, who lives in Houston, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009. He decided to come out of retirement in the spring and signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox, the team he made his major league debut with in 1999.

The right-hander was released in April and signed with the Padres (27-47) last month, and despite recording an 8.22 ERA in his last three starts for Triple-A Tucson, he'll be pitching for his ninth major league team Tuesday.

"He's pitched in major league games, and he's pitched in a lot of them," manager Bud Black told the Padres' official website. "The expectation is you hope for the best, for him and the club, and he goes out and pitches a good ballgame."

Wells had an 8.59 ERA in his last four starts against the Astros (30-43), and while he'll see a whole new lineup around Carlos Lee this time, he may find an offense that's hitting its stride.

Houston has combined for 22 runs in its last three games after totaling one in losing its previous three. J.D Martinez and Chris Johnson have driven in six runs apiece during the Astros' resurgence.

Despite facing a San Diego team that ranks last in the majors with 251 runs, seven wasn't enough Monday as Carlos Quentin's RBI double in the 10th inning lifted the Padres to an 8-7 victory. Houston left the bases loaded in the second, third and fourth innings.

"That was a tough one because we had those opportunities to score, but it just didn't come through for us,'' manager Brad Mills said. "We were just one big hit away.''

Quentin, Jesus Guzman, Logan Forsythe and Nick Hundley had two hits apiece for the Padres, who also seem to be coming around offensively. They've reached the eight-run mark twice in the last four games after plating seven or fewer in each of their previous 24.

The Padres, owners of baseball's second-worst record, are now trying to win three in a row for only the second time all season. Facing Jordan Lyles (1-4, 5.04 ERA) could help them do it considering the Astros have lost seven of his eight starts.

The right-hander has been on the hook for his last three, though he held Kansas City to two runs, three hits and no walks over seven innings in a 2-1 loss Wednesday. He had surrendered five runs in each of his previous two starts, and attributed some of his success to a new curveball grip that he learned from teammate Wandy Rodriguez.

"I've been looking for an outing where I can just turn that corner,'' Lyles said. "Hopefully, this was it and that's what I'm striving for. It is big because I know I can pitch up here and get outs.''

Lyles made his second career start against San Diego last June 5, allowing four runs in four innings of a 7-2 road loss.

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