AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) - Alexi Amarista launched a grand slam for his first major league homer, capping a six-run rally in the ninth inning off Houston closer Brett Myers and lifting the San Diego Padres over the Astros 7-3 Thursday night.
Andrew Cashner held Houston hitless for six innings in only his third big league start. Carlos Lee broke up the bid with a one-out single in the seventh and Brian Bogusevic followed with a homer for a 2-1 lead.
The Astros added a run in the eighth, and Myers (0-3) came on in the ninth with a 3-1 lead.
Myers allowed a leadoff double by pinch hitter John Baker and a one-out single by pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay. Third baseman Chris Johnson's second error of the game gave San Diego a run, and Carlos Quentin was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, tying it at 3.
With two outs, Amarista homered into the second row in right field. The shot by the diminutive Amarista, who is listed at 5-foot-7 but looks smaller than that, sent the few remaining fans streaming for the exits.
The 23-year-old Amarista was brought up from Triple-A on May 17 after being acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels earlier that month.
The Astros couldn't do anything against Cashner through the first six innings as he kept them off-balance relying on a fastball clocked as high as 99 mph mixed with sliders and curves.
Cashner retired Jed Lowrie to start the seventh inning before Lee's hit to shallow single to center field assured that the Padres would remain the only franchise in major league baseball without a no-hitter.
Bogusevic's soaring shot that pinged off the second deck in right field chased the 25-year-old Cashner. He crouched down as he watched the ball sail away, before getting up and shaking his head.
J.D. Martinez walked in the Houston eighth, reached third on a single by Scott Moore and scored on a wild pitch by Nick Vincent (1-0).
Dallas Keuchel, who was also making the third start of his career, yielded four hits and four walks with a run in six innings. Keuchel pitched a complete game for his first major league win in his last start for Houston.
Cashner made 27 relief appearances for the Padres this season before going 2 1-3 innings in a start on June 9. He was sent to Double-A San Antonio after that to work on his transition from reliever to starter. He went 2-0 with a 1.88 in three starts there.
The Padres moved Cashner out of the bullpen in an attempt to bolster a rotation decimated by injuries that has used 13 different starters this season.
Cashner retired the first five batters he faced before walking Jason Castro with two outs in the second inning. He immediately got back on track retiring the next 14 batters, with eight strikeouts including the side in both the third and sixth innings.
He finished with nine strikeouts and a walk in 6 1-3 innings.
Cashner, who went to school in Conroe, which is just outside of Houston, had his own cheering section of friends and family who held up signs spelling out each letter of his last name.
NOTES: Houston 2B Jose Altuve was out of the lineup for the fourth straight game with a strained right hamstring. Manager Brad Mills doesn't expect him to play until at least Sunday. ... San Diego optioned RHP Brad Brach to Triple-A Tucson before the game to make room on the roster for Cashner. ... Houston reliever Wilton Lopez, on the DL with a sprained right elbow, felt good after throwing a bullpen session on Wednesday. Mills said he will throw a couple more sessions before going out on a rehabilitation assignment. ... San Diego's Ross Ohlendorf will move from the rotation into the bullpen as a long reliever, making Kip Wells the starter on Sunday against the Rockies.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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