HOUSTON -- It was not the Wandy Rodriguez the Astros have known before this season.
Manager Cecil Cooper was glad of that.Rodriguez threw eight sharp innings and Hunter Pence's two-run single in the fifth lifted the Astros to a 2-0 victory over the San Diego Padres on Friday night.
• Wandy Rodriguez gave up five hits, struck out seven and had no walks in eight shutout innings. Rodriguez has allowed one earned run or less in five of his seven starts.
• LaTroy Hawkins pitched in the ninth inning to complete the Astros' second shutout of the season.
• Hunter Pence got a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the fifth inning to snap the Astros' three-game losing streak.
• The Padres have lost eight of their last 10.
• Lance Berkman was a late scratch from the starting lineup with a sore left wrist.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"He just pitched a terrific game," Cooper said. "It really shows me a lot. He is becoming a big-time, big-league pitcher."The difference this year is just the maturity," Cooper added. "There was a time when he would let things get away if something went wrong. He'd balk and then he'd lose focus. But now he just calms down."In his longest outing of the season, Rodriguez (3-2) allowed five hits without issuing a walk. He struck out seven and lowered his ERA to 1.80, third-best in the league.Rodriguez retired 16 in a row from the second through the seventh innings. The impressive streak came after he worked his way out of a jam with runners at second and third in the second inning with a strikeout and a groundout.Rodriguez is one of four pitchers in the league not to allow a home run this year."Wandy was incredible," Pence said. "That's the reason we won tonight. When he pitches like that, it's tough to beat him."The Padres were certainly impressed. Not even slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez could get a hit, failing to reach base for only the second time in 30 games this season."We had a couple of chances in the first two innings, but we could not cash in," manager Bud Black said. "Then [Rodriguez] found his groove and his curve ball was very good tonight. He kept his fastball and his changeup down and away and they were both very good pitches for him tonight. He was aggressive, threw strikes and we just could not get to him."I have not seen him a lot before tonight, but looking at his stats, he has 10 less hits than innings pitches and that tells you he has good stuff."Padres outfielder Chase Headley couldn't agree more. He went 0 for 4 against Rodriguez."Any time a guy can throw three pitches for strikes, that is going to be a tough night for a hitter," Headley said. "Tonight, though, he just had really good control of his curve. It is one of those pitches that if he leaves it over the plate, you are going to hit it. But if he gets it under your hands it is going to be a tough night."Ivan Rodriguez was hit by a pitch and Kaz Matsui walked before Pence hit a sharp liner to the right side of the infield for the eventual winning hit. Gonzalez dove and just missed stopping the ball as Rodriguez and Matsui scored.LaTroy Hawkins pitched the ninth for his fourth save in five tries.Chad Gaudin (0-2) went seven innings and allowed two runs on five hits for the Padres. He struck out five and walked three.Gaudin was in trouble in four of the first five innings with men in scoring position each time, but managed to wiggle out of the jams.
Lance Berkman was a late scratch from the Astros lineup due to soreness in his left wrist. He's considered day-to-day. ... RHP Brandon Backe, has a strained left intercostal, was scheduled for his third rehab start at Double-A Corpus Christi on Friday night. ... C Humberto Quintero Rodriguez (strained right shoulder) started a rehab assignment in Triple-A Round Rock. ... Padres RHPs Cha Seung Baek and Walter Silva (strained right forearms) will make rehab assignment starts this weekend with Triple-A Portland.