Lefty Clayton Richard can win his fourth straight start and give San Diego a series lead tonight, when the Padres play the third test of a four-game set with the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
The Padres won Monday's opener, 8-7, then dropped a 5-3 decision Tuesday when Houston's Jordan Lyles (2-4) scattered six hits and walked four and struck out four to snap a personal three-game slide.
Brett Myers recorded his 17th save despite giving up a pair of hits in the ninth.
J.D. Martinez crushed a two-run homer and Jed Lowrie added a solo blast and scored twice as the Astros earned their third win in four games.
Kip Wells (0-1), who last appeared in the majors on Oct. 1, 2009 with the Cincinnati Reds, took the loss for San Diego after giving up five runs - two earned - on seven hits and three walks over five full frames.
Will Venable clubbed a solo home run and Chase Headley added a two-run single for the Padres, who had won their last four meetings with the Astros.
Meanwhile, Richard, who came to the Padres from the Chicago White Sox in the 2009 trade that sent Jake Peavy to the American League, was a 14-game winner in his initial full season in San Diego before skidding to just five wins in 18 starts last year.
He was 2-7 through his initial 12 starts of 2012 but has won three in a row since, defeating Seattle, Oakland and Seattle again in interleague play while lowering his season's earned run average from 4.58 to 3.95.
In the three wins, he's allowed six runs on 19 hits in 21 1/3 innings.
Richard has met Houston one time, on April 17, 2011, and got a no-decision in an 8-6 San Diego win after giving up six runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Houston starter Lucas Harrell also came from the White Sox, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2004, and makes his 16th start of 2012 while trying to end a two-start skid.
He was 1-0 in 11 appearances with Chicago in 2010-11 before being placed on waivers and signed by the Astros in July 2011.
He finished last season with six appearances and a 3.46 ERA with Houston and opened this year in the rotation, winning six of 10 decisions before losses to Texas and Cleveland in his last two appearances.
In those games, he's allowed nine hits and six runs in 12 1/3 innings.
Harrell has never faced the Padres.
San Diego won five of eight games with the Astros in 2011 and five of seven in 2010. Houston last won the season series between the teams in 2009, taking six of seven games.