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HOU@SD: Alonso drills a two-run shot to put Padres up

SAN DIEGO -- That crooked number on the scoreboard has never looked so good to these Padres, who spent nearly the entire first half of the season scuffling offensively.

But with another big night offensively in Tuesday's 8-2 win over the Astros in front of a crowd of 20,944 at Petco Park, the team has now scored seven or more runs in six of its last 14 games and, on a much smaller scale, three of its past four games.

"It's fun. It seems like the last three or four weeks as a team whole we've been putting together great at-bats," said Padres' center fielder Cameron Maybin, who had three of the team's 13 hits. "It's nice when you get knocks and two-out RBIs. That's always fun.

"It seems like things are trying to turn, but we've got to keep pushing. We've got to keep the intensity level up every day. From the first pitch of the game throughout the whole game, that's the key for us."

It took the Padres (37-55) a while to really get going Tuesday, as they scored six runs over their last four innings.

Tied at two, the Padres scored twice in the fifth inning as Logan Forsythe, Chase Headley, Mark Kotsay and Yasmani Grandal reached on successive one-out hits. Headley, Kotsay and Grandal, all hitting left-handed, each had hits to the opposite field.

Not only that, but Yonder Alonso's two-run home run in the second inning was -- you guessed it -- also hit the left field.

This much wasn't lost on manager Bud Black.

"Once we went through the lineup one time, and harkening back to the game in Houston, he's got a nice tailing fastball," Black said of Astros pitcher Jordan Lyles. "I think the balls he threw away, we didn't try to pull. We had better at-bats that way, especially the left-handed hitters."

Black also liked the way his team kept adding on, an element to the offense that was missing from the first half of the season. On Tuesday, the Padres were 5-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Maybin and leadoff hitter Alexi Amarista each had three hits against the Astros (34-57). Alonso had two hits, including his fourth home run of the season -- but his first at Petco Park.

"It took long," he said, smiling. "I hope I don't go that long without [his next home run at Petco Park]. But my thing is more doubles."

The Padres had three doubles, including a two-run double by Maybin in the seventh inning to break the game open.

"I think the past month has been better," Alonso said. "The younger guys are more comfortable ... and they know what [opposing pitchers] have."

San Diego pitcher Ross Ohlendorf, pitching for the first time since July 6, wavered some early, allowing two hits in the first inning, one run in the second inning and then two hits and a run in the third inning.

But Ohlendorf, making his first start since June 25 against these same Astros, oddly enough, pitched better thereafter.

"We had some guys on base, too. It's frustrating when you can't capitalize on getting guys on base and doing damage," said Astros third baseman Chris Johnson.

Ohlendorf (3-0) retired the Astros in order in the fourth inning to start a stretch where he set down nine of the next 10 hitters he faced. The lone hit Ohlendorf that allowed in that run was a soft double into right field that a diving Will Venable couldn't quite corral.

All told, he allowed one earned run on six hits in six innings with one walk and six strikeouts.

"At the beginning my slider wasn't as good as usual, but it did come along. I was overthrowing it a few times," Ohlendorf said. "I feel good. I was really happy with how I pitched, especially as the game went on. I know I can pitch like I did tonight. It's definitely a confidence booster moving forward."

The same could be said for the offensive production the Padres have been having this month.

After averaging 3.13 runs per game in April, 3.29 in May and 3.85 in June, the Padres have been able to raise that figure to 4.38 runs in July.

"The key to that now is to be able to sustain it," Black said. "That's the thing you need to do ... put up some runs every night. Our guys are capable of that."

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