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Padres have dropped eight of 13

HOUSTON (AP) -- Jason Lane went to his manager for help and the
extra batting practice worked.

Lane called the session with manager Phil Garner before Tuesday
night's game a significant help as he broke out of a 3-for-23 slump
by going 2-for-4 with a three-run homer to help the Houston Astros
beat the San Diego Padres 6-2.

"He just showed me some things about getting the bat head into
the zone quicker," Lane, who had been 0-for-8, said of the hitting
session. "It definitely helped me the first two at-bats [a single
and a hard-hit groundout] tonight. Then I felt better about myself
and when you get some confidence going, it helps."

Craig Biggio's home run in the fifth broke a 1-1 tie for Houston
and Lance Berkman followed with a double. After Morgan Ensberg was
intentionally walked, the Padres lifted starter Dennys Reyes for
reliever Brian Falkenborg. Lane then homered for the four-run lead
and the Astros went on to their sixth win in seven games and 12th
of 15.

Lane admitted the intentional walk to Ensberg inspired him.

"You can understand the strategy because Morgan has been doing
so well lately and I haven't," Lane said. "But at the same time,
it kind of stings your pride. You want to make them pay."

Garner thinks Lane will continue to make opponents pay.

"I'm glad that happened to Jason," Garner said of the homer.
"He has struggled some lately and he has worked hard to get out of
it. Hopefully, this will get him going."

Starter Brandon Backe (7-6) ended a personal three-game losing
streak, allowing one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked
four and struck out two.

Backe (7-6) experienced soreness in his right elbow after going
only 3 2/3 innings in his most recent start, a no-decision last
Wednesday at Cincinnati. He said he was ready to pitch after an
examination by team doctor David Lintner on Monday.

"I felt good," Backe said. "When I was throwing, (the elbow)
didn't bother me. Then after I iced it after the game, it started
feeling a little tight and sore.

"I think it's something every pitcher feels sometimes. I've
just got to go out and throw and not worry about it."

Garner said it didn't look like Backe was hurting.

"I thought he threw good," Garner said. "He was better in the
strike zone than before."

San Diego lost for the fifth time in eight games and has dropped
eight of 13.

Padres manager Bruce Bochy bemoaned his team's lack of timely
hitting.

"Their guy shut us down pretty good," Bochy said. "We're
going through a tough period. This is a tough park to win a game in
when you only get one or two runs. We just got out-pitched and
out-hit today."

Reyes (3-2) went 4 1/3 innings and allowed four runs and six
hits in his first start of the season after 32 relief appearances.
He took the start that would have been made by Darrell May, who was
traded to the New York Yankees last Saturday.

"I haven't pitched that many pitches (71) in a game this
year," Reyes said. "But the only bad pitch was the one to Biggio.
It was a fastball inside and it was a really bad pitch. It was a
bad selection when I was behind in the count. I wanted to throw
five innings and I just about made it."

Brian Giles, who had three hits and two RBI, opened the scoring
with an RBI single in the first inning.

Backe helped himself out in the second with a two-out,
bases-loaded infield single that tied the game at 1.

Biggio reached on a broken-bat grounder in the sixth that the
Padres tried to turn into a double play. Instead, second baseman
Eric Young threw wildly to first allowing Mike Lamb to score for a
6-1 lead.

Giles had an RBI single in the eighth.

Game notes
Chris Burke's seventh-inning single gave the Astro a
career-high 10-game hitting streak. ... Biggio's two hits tied him
with Roberto Alomar for 50th on the career list with 2,724. ...
Backe came to Houston before last season from Tampa Bay in a trade
for Geoff Blum, who was 0-for-2 with a walk against Backe on
Tuesday. ... Reyes' last start was last July 7 at Minnesota while
he was with Kansas City. ... Brad Lidge, who hadn't pitched in 11
games due to a sore right biceps, entered in the seventh because
Garner didn't want to use him in his usual closer role in his first
game back. It was the first time Lidge had pitched as early as the
seventh inning since Aug. 5, 2004, against Atlanta. He had a 1-2-3
inning Tuesday and threw only 10 pitches.