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Mitchell keeps potent Astros' lineup off-balance

Padres' righty silences defending champs for 5 2/3 innings before giving way to 'pen
MLB.com @AJCassavell

HOUSTON -- The Padres didn't get the version of Bryan Mitchell they envisioned when they traded for him in December. But they'll certainly take the effort from the 26-year-old right hander on Saturday night against the defending champs.

Mitchell was excellent over 5 2/3 scoreless frames in the Padres' heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Houston in 10 innings. The game ended when a routine popup fell just beyond the outstretched glove of Eric Hosmer. But without Mitchell's effort, there isn't a 10th inning in the first place.

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HOUSTON -- The Padres didn't get the version of Bryan Mitchell they envisioned when they traded for him in December. But they'll certainly take the effort from the 26-year-old right hander on Saturday night against the defending champs.

Mitchell was excellent over 5 2/3 scoreless frames in the Padres' heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Houston in 10 innings. The game ended when a routine popup fell just beyond the outstretched glove of Eric Hosmer. But without Mitchell's effort, there isn't a 10th inning in the first place.

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For the second consecutive start, Mitchell struggled to command his potentially elite curveball -- the pitch that enticed the Padres enough to swing a deal with the Yankees at the Winter Meetings.

But after he allowed five runs in five innings to Colorado on Monday, Mitchell paired his curve with excellent command of his two-seam fastball on Saturday. He recorded only one strikeout, but almost all of Houston's contact was weak, and he allowed only three hits.

"He really did a good job attacking the strike zone," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "That's a really good hitting team over there. He had them pretty off-balance. They weren't taking too many quality swings off him.

"He sprinkled in enough curveballs to slow them down even more. A lot of encouraging things to build on for him. Really proud of the way he battled through a game against the defending champs."

Video: SD@HOU: Mitchell induces 6-4-3 double play

Mitchell needed just 42 pitches to get through four innings before he found himself in a jam in the fifth. He loaded the bases with a two-out walk to George Springer, but on the 30th pitch of the frame, he got Alex Bregman to fly out to right.

Mitchell tired a bit in the sixth, departing with two on and two outs after a pair of walks. Righty reliever Craig Stammen escaped the threat, and the second-longest scoreless outing of Mitchell's career was final. He allowed only two batted balls struck harder than 95 mph.

"Especially early on, the first few innings, he was really driving that fastball down in the outer lane," Padres manager Andy Green said. "Last time when we gave him that target, he wasn't hitting it. ... That's a really good lineup he kept off-balance all day."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Bryan Mitchell