Lucas Harrell was helped by a big defensive play in the ninth inning to record his first career shutout as the Houston Astros blanked the San Diego Padres, 1-0, in the third test of a four-game set at Minute Maid Park.
Harrell (7-6) scattered six hits and four walks with seven strikeouts, while Matt Downs supplied the offense with a home run for Houston, which won for the fourth time in five games.
"What a great job working around those six hits," Astros manager Brad Mills said about Harrell. "To see a guy throw like that and do such a great job, that's nice to see."
Clayton Richard (5-8) allowed just two hits and a run over seven strong innings to take the loss and snap a three-start win streak.
Yonder Alonso and Logan Forsythe each collected a pair of hits for the Padres, who dropped their second straight game.
Harrell entered for the ninth and quickly placed the tying run on second base with one out when Carlos Quentin reached on a fielder's choice and pinch- runner Alexi Amarista moved to second on Alonso's walk.
Forsythe then pulled a base hit through the left side of the infield. Amarista attempted to score on the play, but J.D. Martinez's throw to the plate easily beat Amarista and catcher Chris Snyder applied the tag on Amarista's left arm for the second out of the inning.
After pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay worked a walk to fill the bags, Harrell got Nick Hundley to fan on a high fastball to end the contest in a brisk one hour and 58 minutes, which is the quickest game in the majors this year.
Downs recorded the game's lone run with a leadoff blast over the left-center field wall in the third inning.
Richard would retire the next 15 batters he faced following Downs' fifth home run of the year before being pulled in favor of Dale Thayer to start the eighth inning.
But San Diego would not be able to capitalize on his performance, stranding a man on second in both the fourth and fifth innings to keep it a 1-0 game.
Harrell improved to 5-1 in seven home starts this season...Richard fell to 0-1 in two career meetings with the Astros...The Padres' Chris Denorfia went 0- for-1 in a pinch-hit appearance to end his career-best 12-game hit streak...Harrell threw 69 of his 109 pitches for strikes.