HOUSTON (AP) — Clayton Richard pitched one of his best games of the season Wednesday night. Unfortunately for the Padres, Lucas Harrell was even better.
Harrell pitched a six-hitter for his first complete game and left fielder J.D. Martinez threw out a runner at the plate in the ninth inning to preserve the Houston Astros' 1-0 victory over San Diego.
Matt Downs homered and Harrell (7-6) finished it off by striking out Nick Hundley with the bases loaded.
Richard (5-8) allowed only two hits in seven innings, but one of them proved to be the difference in the game. Downs' home run in the third gave the Astros their only run against Richard, who allowed just one other runner on a single by Martinez.
"Baseball is a funny game," Richard said. "Sometimes you pitch well and don't get the results you want. But that just goes to show how much of a team game this is. You have to have everything going to get wins."
The Padres managed six hits but could never turn them into anything that would help Richard. He acknowledged being disappointed when San Diego manager Bud Black elected to pinch-hit for him in the eighth.
"As a pitcher, you always want to stay in as long as you can," Richard said. "That's what you pride yourself in. In that situation, in a one-run game, Buddy is going to make a decision that he feels will best help us win the ballgame."
Black defended his decision by saying the Padres had just three at-bats left to crack Harrell, who struck out seven and walked four.
"The game dictates what you do with your starting pitcher, and that was just a classic National League game where you have to pinch-hit him to try to win the game," Black said.
The game took just 1 hour, 57 minutes — the fastest of the season for San Diego.
The Padres had everything in line to steal the game from Harrell and Houston in the ninth.
Chase Headley led off with a single, but Carlos Quentin grounded into a fielder's choice and Headley was thrown out at second. Alexi Amarista ran for Quentin and advanced to second when Yonder Alonso walked.