HOUSTON -- Mat Latos pleaded his case to finish his first complete game on Friday night, and San Diego manager Bud Black was nearly persuaded.
Black grudgingly told the 22-year-old right-hander that he was done after eight shutout innings in the Padres' 7-0 win over the Houston Astros. Latos struck out a career-high nine, but needed 107 pitches, the deciding factor in why Black summoned Ryan Webb for the ninth."I was lobbying for him, too, in my mind, but I couldn't get there," Black said. "I'm thinking, 'He's got 10 more pitches. He can go 10 more pitches, 117 or 120.' I just couldn't do it."Latos (2-3) allowed only two hits without a walk. He struck out the last four hitters he faced, and did his best to sway Black in the dugout before the last inning.Other pitchers got behind Latos, too, but Black wouldn't budge."I told him, 'I don't ask for nothing. I keep my mouth shut, I do what I need to do. But you know what? I'm going to ask you for this," Latos said. "He said it's not my time. I can't argue with him. I know the reasons for why he wouldn't let me go in. They want to keep my pitch count down, keep my innings down. Eight (innings) is fine, I'll take it."Latos also drove in a run and Chase Headley hit a two-run homer for the Padres, who snapped a five-game losing streak at Minute Maid Park.The Astros have lost 10 of their last 11, averaging 1.82 runs during the slide. Houston was shut out for the fifth time this season."There are a whole lot of factors that converge to create this snowball that is rolling downhill right now," said first baseman Lance Berkman, who went 0 for 3. "Guys want to get something done, so they try harder, and do worse. Then the guy that comes after him tries harder, and they do worse. And then the pitcher senses we're not swinging the bats well, so he gets more confident."Houston starter Bud Norris (1-4) struck out seven, but otherwise struggled in four innings, giving up four earned runs on five hits.The Padres took a 1-0 lead in the second after an error by Houston shortstop Tommy Manzella.Will Venable singled, Yorvit Torrealba walked and the two executed a double steal with Kyle Blanks batting. Blanks then hit a sharp grounder that went between Manzella's legs, allowing Venable to score. Manzella has six errors this season.Norris struck out Jerry Hairston Jr. and Latos to escape more damage, but threw 44 pitches in two innings.Scott Hairston led off the third inning with a homer to left, his fifth. Hairston was leading off for the first time this season.David Eckstein doubled to left-center before Headley homered to right for a 4-0 lead. Norris then fanned Venable for his seventh strikeout.Hairston Jr. walked with one out in the fourth, advanced on a passed ball and scored on Latos' ground-rule double to right for a 5-0 lead. Latos' first career extra-base hit netted his first-ever RBI."Just swing it hard in case you hit it, dude," Latos said. "I just kind of threw the bat at the ball, got my hands at it and just tried to drive it with my hands."Left-hander Gustavo Chacin, recalled from the minors Monday, replaced Norris for the start of the fifth inning. The 29-year-old Chacin pitched two scoreless innings in his first appearance since 2007, when he played for Toronto.Latos retired 14 in a row after Pedro Feliz's two-out single in the second inning. He needed only 69 pitches through the first six innings.Carlos Lee beat out a high bouncer left of the mound with one out in the seventh, Houston's second hit. Berkman grounded into a fielder's choice, and Jason Michaels struck out to end the inning.Scott Hairston homered again in the eighth, a two-run shot off Wilton Lopez, to make it 7-0.Latos struck out the side in the bottom half to reach nine for the game. His previous career high was seven strikeouts, set last August against the New York Mets.
Hairston had his fourth career two-homer game, and first since July 2008. ... Black said SS Everth Cabrera will do "baseball-specific" workouts in Houston this weekend and then likely begin a rehab assignment. Cabrera has been on the disabled list since April 30 with a strained right hamstring. ... The Astros dropped to 0-3 in home games with the retractable roof closed this season. ... The Padres won for the fourth time in Latos' last 11 starts.