HOUSTON -- Bizarre is the best way to describe the Astros-Padres finale in the four-game series Sunday. Jason Jennings came away a little shell-shocked, most of the Astros admitted they had rarely seen such a game and even the usually loquacious Lance Berkman was at a loss for words as Houston dropped an 18-11 decision that gave San Diego a split in the series. Jennings (2-7) was battered for 11 runs on eight hits, including two doubles and two home runs, as the Padres sent 15 batters to the plate in the first. It wasn't a franchise record -- Houston allowed 14 runs in the first inning against the Reds on Aug. 3, 1989 -- but it was enough to bury the Astros.
And it was historic for Jennings. Lasting only two-thirds of an inning, Jennings' woeful outing would figure to an ERA of 148.50 counting only Sunday's performance. As it is, his season ERA vaulted from 4.74 to 5.99 in one day. "It obviously was the worst inning of my baseball career," Jennings said. "It was pretty much an embarrassment. I was embarrassed for my teammates and for the fans. "It was actually pretty much hard to accept. It's one of those that you just flush down the toilet and try to move on. But it's definitely something I'll never forget." Three walks, including two to the game's first two batters, helped do Jennings in. "Jason's location was off," manager Phil Garner said. "He found it difficult to get the ball where he wanted it. And those first two walks kind of set the tone." The further oddity of the afternoon was the Astros came back and made a game of it. They scored seven runs in the fourth inning, including homers by Berkman, Luke Scott and Chris Burke, to close the margin to 12-8. Reliever Dave Borkowski got lit up for three more Padres runs in the fifth as San Diego appeared to pull back out of range at 15-8. But the Astros got three more runs on consecutive hits by Carlos Lee, Ty Wigginton, Scott, Jason Lane and Eric Munson to close it to 15-11 in the fifth. And they loaded the bases in the seventh when Burke -- the tying run at the plate -- ended it by striking out. "It was nice that we came back," Burke said. "When we scored the seven, I thought at that point we had a chance. There was still a lot of baseball to be played. But at the end of the day, we had a lot of chances -- including myself -- to go ahead and win it and we didn't." Borkowski just stood at his locker and shook his head. "It was just a weird, strange game," Borkowski said. "Especially early in the game, every ball just seemed to find a hole. Then we came back, but couldn't stop them again. It just didn't happen today." Even Garner was hopeful in the fourth. "When we got the seven runs, I thought we had momentum back in our favor," Garner said. "But we come back and give up three and we had some defensive problems. "A lot of good things happened. A lot of bad things happened. Jason had a tough day, then a couple of pitchers pitched well and a couple pitched badly. We didn't catch the ball very well, either. But we kept battling back." And what was Berkman's take on the unusual afternoon? "There were a lot of runs scored," he deadpanned. "Obviously, you don't see 11 runs scored in the first inning very often. But we came back, then we played some bad defense and we didn't pitch at all. ... So you lose." The total matched the Astros record for combined runs in a game, which was set in a 22-7 loss to the Cubs on June 3, 1987. It also was the most runs allowed in an inning and a game by Houston this season.
Jim Carley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.