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Perdomo, Pirela rise to occasion vs. champs

MLB.com @AJCassavell

HOUSTON -- The Padres departed San Diego on Thursday facing quite a few question marks after a disappointing season-opening homestand. Perhaps all they needed was a trip to Houston to face the defending World Series champs.

Turning an apparent mismatch on its head, Luis Perdomo out-pitched Lance McCullers Jr. on Friday night, and the Padres beat the Astros, 4-1, at Minute Maid Park. Jose Pirela's two-run double in the fifth put San Diego on top, and Houston didn't manage a hit after that.

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HOUSTON -- The Padres departed San Diego on Thursday facing quite a few question marks after a disappointing season-opening homestand. Perhaps all they needed was a trip to Houston to face the defending World Series champs.

Turning an apparent mismatch on its head, Luis Perdomo out-pitched Lance McCullers Jr. on Friday night, and the Padres beat the Astros, 4-1, at Minute Maid Park. Jose Pirela's two-run double in the fifth put San Diego on top, and Houston didn't manage a hit after that.

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Video: SD@HOU: Pirela doubles to right to drive in two runs

In almost every facet, the Friars were better than what they showed during their 1-6 start in San Diego. They got five innings of one-run ball from Perdomo, whose rotation status seemed tenuous after a poor outing against Milwaukee. They got a shutdown ninth from closer Brad Hand, who had struggled twice in similar situations. And they got timely offense, which proved especially elusive at Petco Park.

It made a winner out of Perdomo, who bounced back in a big way. He struck out four and allowed four hits, while making excellent use of his slider. When the Padres took the lead in the top of the fifth, he responded by breezing through the heart of the Astros' order, setting down Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa on 11 pitches.

"We've put urgency to him, and we've tried to give him a sense of, 'Hey, it's time to go,'" Padres manager Andy Green said. "He stepped up today. … He was outstanding."

Video: SD@HOU: Green on defeating defending champions

Perdomo's progression has been a somewhat frustrating one for the Padres. A year ago, he didn't take the steps forward that the club had hoped for and slumped to a 4.67 ERA.

When he allowed five runs over four innings against Milwaukee on Saturday, questions arose about whether Perdomo might be best served to develop at Triple-A. He quashed a few of those concerns on Friday night.

"I'm going to keep working as hard as I can, to make sure every start from here on out is just like that," Perdomo said.

The bullpen took care of the rest. Jordan Lyles, Kirby Yates and Hand combined to hold Houston hitless over the final four frames. It was a similarly impressive response from Hand, who entered a tie game in the ninth against Colorado on Thursday and surrendered three runs.

Video: SD@HOUR: Lyles fans Fisher for fourth strikeout

"It was nice to get right back out on the mound, myself," Hand said. "You can't worry about what happened yesterday, just go out there and compete today."

Pirela's three-hit night sparked the Padres' offense, which strung together five consecutive hits against McCullers in the fifth. Pirela singled and scored in the top of the first, then stunned the Minute Maid Park crowd with an opposite-field two-run double in the fifth.

"He's been the energy for us," Green said. "He's having great at-bats."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Air Jordan: For the most part, Perdomo was very good. But with 97 pitches over five innings, he put the Padres' bullpen in a bit of a bind. Enter Lyles, the former Astro. The right-hander continued his impressive start to the season with perfect innings in the sixth and seventh. He struck out four in the process, then robbed George Springer by snaring a liner right back to the mound.

Hustlin' Hoz: The Padres refused to settle for a two-run cushion in the ninth. Facing Astros closer Ken Giles, Eric Hosmer smacked a two-out liner to straightaway center field. Taking note of the Astros' off-kilter outfield alignment, he turned on the jets around first and slid safely into second for a double. One batter later, Hosmer scored easily when Christian Villanueva ripped a double into the left-field corner.

Video: SD@HOU: Villanueva doubles to add to Padres' lead

"He's been known for heady baserunning for some time," Green said. "That's what he does. … That was a great time to take a chance."

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Hosmer has hit safely in 11 consecutive games in Houston, dating back to his time in Kansas City. He's tied with Ryan Braun and Ryon Healy for the longest active streak at Minute Maid Park, where he owns a .371 career batting average in 17 games.

VILLANUEVA OK
The Padres got a bit of a scare in the seventh inning when Villanueva took a fastball from Collin McHugh squarely off his left wrist. After being evaluated by a team trainer, Villanueva remained in the game -- then ripped his RBI double in the ninth.

"He seems OK," Green said. "He was fine swinging, had a big hit for us in the ninth inning as well. … I was nervous when that ball hit him."

WHAT'S NEXT
Bryan Mitchell's Padres tenure got off to a rough start, as he allowed five runs over five innings Monday. He'll look for a bounce-back effort on Saturday in Houston, where he recorded a three-inning save for the Yankees in June. To do so, Mitchell will need to find more success with his curveball, which he threw for just six strikes in 20 pitches on Monday. Game time is set for 4:10 p.m. PT.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

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