Astros cruise past Padres after taking big early lead

" Hero: Rodriguez (7-9) settled in nicely after allowing a single to Brian Giles and a run-scoring double to Mike Cameron to lead off the game, shutting out the Padres for the remainder of his seven innings. He scattered three additional hits and two walks to improve to 6-2 with a 1.76 ERA at home.

" Opposite directions: The Astros have won five of seven while the Padres have lost six of seven.

" Goat: Just five days after his worst outing of the season, Padres starter David Wells one-upped himself and didn't take the mound for the fourth inning, having allowed seven runs on seven hits -- including three homers -- and four walks. It was the third time this season Wells has been limited to three innings or less.

-- ESPN.com news services

Astros 7, Padres 1

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Wandy Rodriguez mystery continues.

Rodriguez (7-9) allowed a run and five hits in seven innings, striking out five to lead the Houston Astros to a 7-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Thursday.

Carlos Lee, Morgan Ensberg and Craig Biggio hit home runs. It was Biggio's second home run in three games since announcing his retirement.

The Astros have won five of seven while the Padres have lost six of seven.

Rodriguez improved to 6-2 with a 1.76 ERA at home. The left-hander is 1-7 with a 7.43 ERA on the road and nobody seems to know why his pitching is so different at home, not even Rodriguez.

"I don't know," Rodriguez said through an interpreter. "I also feel good when I pitch on the road."

His manager and teammates are also mystified.

"I don't have an explanation for it," manager Phil Garner said. "I was a little concerned about him after the first inning, but he settled right in after that and pitched a very good game."

The Padres thought they had Rodriguez going when they scored a run early in the first inning. Brian Giles led off with a single and Mike Cameron doubled to left to drive Giles in. But Rodriguez struck out Milton Bradley, and then with two on and two out, Rodriguez caught Khalil Greene looking.

"We had a couple of chances early, but after he got out of that, he pretty much shut us down," Giles said. "It was big for him to escape that first inning jam. But when things are going your way, those things just seem to happen to you."

David Wells wasn't so lucky. With two out in the bottom of the first, Lance Berkman doubled off Wells and Lee followed with his 21st home run of the year. Ensberg hit Wells' next pitch into the left-field Crawford Boxes for his eighth home run of the year and a 3-1 lead.

Manager Bud Black added: "I think the first inning really set the tone tonight. [Wells] just left some pitches over the plate and the Astros didn't miss."

Wells (5-7) lasted only three innings and gave up seven runs and seven hits with four walks. Wells matched his season high for runs allowed, previously set in his last start against Philadelphia.

"Everything was the problem," Wells said. "I left everything over the middle of the plate. Leaving it up, down the middle. You are not going to win many games like that when you are in that zone. I just couldn't throw anything. I couldn't hit the corners. Everything was up and you saw the result."

Giles singled to lead off the game and Mike Cameron followed with an RBI double for a 1-0 Padres lead in the first inning.

Berkman's ground-rule double in the second inning was grabbed by a fan, but still scored Biggio. After an intentional walk to Lee loaded the bases, Wells walked Ensberg to drive in another run. Jason Lane's sacrifice fly to left made it 6-1.

Biggio's seventh homer of the year gave Houston a 7-1 lead in the third.

Clay Hensley, called up Wednesday from Triple-A Portland, pitched three scoreless innings of relief for San Diego. Lefty Joe Thatcher, a key component of the trade that sent reliever Scott Linebrink from San Diego to Milwaukee on Wednesday, made his major league debut and pitched a perfect inning.

Game notes
Biggio went 2-for-5 to increase his hits total to 3,019, one behind Rafael Palmeiro for 23rd place on the all-time list. ... Biggio scored twice Thursday. The Astros are 13-2 when he scores at least twice in a game this season. ... Lee and Ensberg's homers were the second back-to-back home runs for the Astros this year. Luke Scott and Brad Ausmus did it June 26 at Milwaukee. ... Giles scored in the first inning, leaving him 15 runs shy of 1,000 in his career.