HOUSTON -- Astros infielder Bill Hall, who's hitting .195 (10-for-51), did not appear on Saturday during the club's 5-3 win over the Padres. The red-hot Matt Downs earned his first start of the year at second base, going 0-for-2 with a walk.
Hall entered Saturday in an 0-for-10 slump and needing just one game to reach 1,000 for his career.
"Sometimes, you're going to get a day off because you're swinging the bat well or you've got to work on something to swing the bat better," Hall said. "I have nothing. I'm swinging the bat well and finding the barrel. Everything is where it's supposed to be, so I really have nothing to work on today.
"It stinks when you're not finding holes," Hall said. "You go a couple of days and hit some balls hard and a couple of balls don't find holes, and you don't get hits. When you go 0-for-4, that makes that day look a lot worse and a lot tougher. I'm going to go out and go through today and hopefully help them in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning."
Hall hopes that when the balls start falling, he'll begin to get hits in bunches.
"When you're swinging the bat well and are not getting hits, that makes it tough," he said. "Watching other guys on other teams take horrible swings and get hits, and I take good swings and [strike the ball] at the bottom of the barrel and not get rewarded, my human nature is to try harder, which is not always a good thing. Hopefully, this turns it around in the next couple of days."
Said manager Brad Mills: "There have been times you really think he's going to get it going and he does get a couple of hits and does hit the ball hard, but he doesn't seem to get over the hump."
Towles sits against Padres with sore left foot
HOUSTON -- Astros catcher J.R. Towles was scratched from the starting lineup about 90 minutes prior to the first pitch of the Astros' 5-3 win over the Padres because of a sore left foot. He was replaced by Humberto Quintero. Towles fouled a ball off his foot Wednesday and subsequently rolled the foot.
"That part that hurts isn't the part the ball hit, actually," Towles said. "It's when I had the swing, I rolled my ankle a little bit and I ended up straining that ligament, which is what [athletic trainers] Nate [Lucero] and Rex [Jones] think. That's the part that's bothering me the most."
Towles, who has started five games this season, experienced pain while taking batting practice Saturday but told manager Brad Mills he could play.
"Millsie thought I wouldn't be effective enough for the team and just to be ready for Tuesday [to catch Wandy Rodriguez]," Towles said. "Like I said, I feel it the most when I swing."
Towles is hitting .368 (7-for-19) and has hit safely in each of his five starts. He's been paired with Rodriguez three times and Bud Norris and Nelson Figueroa once.
"I just can't get through the zone quick enough," he said. "To right field I'm all right, but I can't swing 100 percent. I'm at about 60, 70 percent."
Bourn will bunt to create havoc on basepaths
HOUSTON -- Astros center fielder Michael Bourn wants to continue to try to bunt as much as he can, and that's fine with manager Brad Mills.
"I want him to keep doing it, that's for sure," Mills said.
Bourn squared to bunt in the first inning during the Astros' 5-3 win over the Padres on Saturday, then reached on a swinging bunt later in the at-bat. Bourn wound up stealing second base, his seventh of the season, and scoring on a Hunter Pence double. Bourn went 1-for-3 during the game with a walk.
Bourn made it a priority to bunt more during Spring Training and has the green light to try it when he wants.
"When that's such a big part of his game, rather than monitor it or pick a time, we want him to have the confidence to be able to do it when he feels good," Mills said. "If he backs way off or is not doing it, we'll have to talk about it, but right now his confidence is pretty high with getting those bunts down, and we want him to continue to do that."
The havoc Bourn creates when he gets on base goes beyond his ability to steal bases. When Bourn is on base, the hitters behind him typically receive more fastballs from pitchers who feel the need to get the ball to the plate as quickly as possible, and some pitches are thrown up and away to give the catchers a better chance to try to throw Bourn out.
"If we're able to get those guys more fastballs, we're going to swing the bats that much better," Mills said.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.