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Loretta sparks five-run fifth

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 RBI 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."

Game notes
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.