Padres 7, Astros 2

This was supposed to be San Diego’s blueprint.

The Padres thought the combination of timely hitting, strong

starting pitching and one of the best bullpens in the majors,

similar to what they had last season when they fell two games short

of the NL West title, was their winning formula for 2011.

Chase Headley extended his career-high hitting streak to 15

games with an RBI double and San Diego won three consecutive home

games for the first time this season with a 7-2 victory over the

Houston Astros on Sunday.

The Padres, who had been awful at home through the first two

months of the season, took three in a row from the Astros after

dropping the series opener Thursday night. That gave San Diego just

its second win in a home series this season. The Padres still have

the NL’s worst home record at 12-21.

San Diego (27-33) won for the eighth time in 11 games. The

Padres remain in last place in the NL West.

”We have been playing a lot better, more like we are capable of

playing and how we want to play,” said Headley, who had two

doubles. ”Fortunately, we didn’t play bad enough that we played

ourselves out of it early. We are still within striking distance. I

like the way we’re playing.”

For as poorly as San Diego has played to this point, it still is

only 6 1/2 games behind first-place San Francisco.

”I think on the last road trip, I saw signs of us playing a

total game,” Padres manager Bud Black said. ”I’m seeing the

defense tightening up a little bit, I’m seeing the bats swinging

better. When those things occur, you’re going to have some

success.”

San Diego scored three first-inning runs to give Mat Latos (4-6)

an early lead. Latos labored through five innings to win his third

straight start, allowing two runs on six hits with three strikeouts

and two walks.

Teammates were quick to credit Jason Bartlett’s nine-pitch

at-bat as a key to the first inning. He tripled in the first run

off rookie Jordan Lyles (0-1).

”It was just a quality at-bat where he fought off some quality

pitches,” Headley said. ”It’s nice to see a guy early and see

everything he has. When he fought off some pitches, it was

beneficial to him and the rest of the guys.”

Lyles had a rougher outing than in his major league debut

Tuesday when he carried a shutout into the eighth at Wrigley

Field.

”Nothing felt really good coming out,” Lyles said. ”It was a

little bit different from that first outing. They made me pay for

my mistakes.”

The right-hander allowed four runs on five hits in four innings

before being lifted. The 20-year-old Lyles struck out three, walked

one and hit two batters with pitches.

Houston’s Hunter Pence extended his hitting streak to a

career-high 17 games with an RBI single in the fifth. Pence’s

hitting streak is the second-longest current run in the majors. St.

Louis infielder Ryan Theriot has hit safely in 19 consecutive

games.

After winning the first four games on its road trip, Houston

wound up 4-3 for its first winning trip this season.

Alberto Gonzalez had a two-run single for the Padres in the

seventh inning, Jason Bartlett had three hits and scored twice, and

Ryan Ludwick walked twice, was hit by a pitch and scored two

runs.

Following a rough start to the season, Latos is 4-1 with a 2.93

ERA in his last five starts.

San Diego, which has been outscored 36-20 in the first inning,

turned around that trend against Lyles.

Chris Denorfia led off with a single and scored on Bartlett’s

triple. With one out, Lyles hit Ludwick with a pitch and Brad Hawpe

followed with an RBI single. Aaron Cunningham bounced into a force

play to bring in the third run.

After Latos allowed Michael Bourn’s leadoff walk in the third

and a stolen base, Carlos Lee followed with a two-out RBI

single.

Headley extended his hitting streak with an RBI double to the

wall in right-center in the third to score Bartlett, who led off

with an infield single, for a 4-1 lead.

Houston got a run back in the fifth on Pence’s run-scoring

single with one out after consecutive singles by pinch-hitter Angel

Sanchez and Bourn.

The Astros, who entered second in the NL in batting average with

runners in scoring position, went 5 for 41 (.122) in the series.

Houston stranded nine runners on Sunday.

NOTES: San Diego won two of three games against Arizona from May

6-8 for its only other winning series at home. … Pence’s hitting

streak is the Astros’ longest since Miguel Tejada hit in 21

straight games in 2009. … Houston RHP Brandon Lyon began a rehab

assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City. Lyon has been on the 15-day

DL with right biceps tendinitis and a partial right rotator cuff

tear.