Astros drop finale, series to Padres

Astros drop finale, series to Padres

HOUSTON -- Adam Everett, usually quiet and reserved, ripped off his batting and began arguing with first-base umpire Fieldin Culbreth on Sunday afternoon.

Everett was upset at Culbreth's call in the fourth inning, when he hustled down the line and stomped the bag just as Adrian Gonzalez received Padres second baseman Josh Barfield's throw.

"I thought I beat that, but sometimes you don't get the final say," Everett said after the Astros lost to the Padres, 7-2, in front of a sellout crowd of 43,143 at Minute Maid Park.

If Everett had been called safe, Luke Scott would have crossed the plate with the game-tying run. Instead, the inning ended there, and the Astros put themselves in deeper holes during each successive inning through the seventh.

Now, they're in a 3 1/2-game hole for the Wild Card once again after closing the gap to just a game and a half a couple of days ago.

"We've got a lot of good things going on right now," manager Phil Garner said. "We would like to have gone ahead and, at least, win the series while we're here at home, but we couldn't seal the deal, and now we have to get back on track."

The Astros were indeed on track for a series win with a 1-0 lead in hand during the early innings. Third baseman Mike Lamb kept that lead intact after the third with a slick, inning-ending double play diving to his right to escape a bases-loaded situation.

"I had some great plays behind me to keep me in this ballgame, that's for sure," said right-hander Brandon Backe, who benefited from Lamb's play. "It could have gotten ugly really quick, but it was a great play by him to keep us in the ballgame."

Backe lost his grip on the one-run lead in the fourth, though. That inning, he allowed a leadoff double to Gonzalez and hit Khalil Greene with a pitch. Both of those players eventually scored after Backe surrendered an RBI single and an RBI groundout.

Still, the Astros fought back in the their half of the fourth. Luke Scott singled and moved over to third on a couple of groundouts, but was left on base following Everett's bang-bang play at first.

"Clearly for me, he's safe," said Garner, whose club matched a season high with 17 hits allowed. "So we did lose a run there. It might make a difference because what you do in the middle part of the game might be a bit differently, so that hurts."

The middle part of the game is where the Astros lost this one. Backe put Mike Cameron and Gonzalez on base in the fifth, and nearly escaped the inning after Everett stabbed Todd Walker's hard grounder with a dive at short.

Unfortunately, second-base umpire Bill Welke ruled Gonzalez safe at second following Everett's toss to Chris Burke. And that put Backe in yet another bases-loaded situation.

"I thought we got out of the inning," said Everett, who also launched a solo homer Sunday into the Crawford Boxes. "It's unbelievable, the matter of inches."

Those inches cost Backe a third run, because he walked Geoff Blum to plate Cameron and put his club down by two.

"It was a very tough game for me," Backe said. "Every inning I had somebody on base. It was pretty much the toughest five innings I've ever pitched."

Relievers Russ Springer and Trever Miller won't include their appearances Sunday among their best, either. Springer allowed a two-run homer to Cameron and a solo shot to Josh Bard, while Miller surrendered a run on four hits in an inning.

Despite those efforts, Garner found something to be pleased about afterward.

"Nobody got hurt, the best I can tell, so that's one positive," he said. "We had some bruised egos, I'm sure."

Kevin Yanik is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.