HOUSTON — The Houston Astros were an angry team on Sunday, and maybe that’s the mindset it’s going to take to reverse their early-season struggles.
Hunter Pence drove in Lance Berkman with a double in the 11th inning and the Astros beat the San Diego Padres 4-3 to snap a three-game losing streak.
Pence and Carlos Lee hit back-to-back homers off Edward Mujica in the sixth and Pedro Feliz drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly off closer Heath Bell in the ninth.
Pence went 3-for-5 after a 3-for-21 start to the month. Instead of calming himself at the plate as he’s done all season, Pence tried to amp up his intensity before every at-bat on Sunday.
“I’ve got to go out there and play angry, just like I’m fighting for my life every time I’m in the batter’s box, kind of the way I came up and the way I’ve always done,” Pence said. “A lot of people say, ‘Relax and have fun.’ That’s not the way I succeed.”
Houston manager Brad Mills showed his fiery side, too, getting ejected for the first time. The Astros liked to see the emotion from their first-year manager.
“I know he’s frustrated, we all are,” Berkman said. “Every once in a while, that’s good, to get a little fire. I’m not saying that’s why we won. But we have to appreciate Mills sticking up for us.”
Roy Oswalt struck out a season-high nine in eight innings for Houston, but once again got little support. The Astros have scored five runs in Oswalt’s 34 innings this season.
Tim Stauffer started for San Diego in place of Kevin Correia, who left the team on Sunday morning after the death of his younger brother in California on Saturday. Stauffer allowed six hits in five shutout innings and left with a 3-0 lead.
“You just have to treat it just like any other game, whether you are starting or coming in the game in relief,” Stauffer said. “You want to be aggressive, throw strikes and just make them put the ball in play.”
Ryan Webb (0-1) became the sixth San Diego pitcher in the 10th, and Jeff Keppinger led off the 11th by beating out a bouncer that third baseman Chase Headley couldn’t handle. Berkman singled to left, but Keppinger was thrown out at third on Jason Michaels’ bunt.
Pence then drove a 1-0 pitch to left-center to give Houston its second win in 13 games. Brandon Lyon (2-1) pitched a perfect 11th to earn the win.
“It felt great to have everyone fighting up in the batter’s box, hitting some balls hard that found holes and clawing back into the game,” Pence said. “Every win, a little weight is lifted.”
Oswalt got off to a fast start, striking out six and retiring 12 in a row after Tony Gwynn’s leadoff single. But he got into trouble during a wild fifth that featured Mills’ ejection for arguing with plate umpire Alfonso Marquez.
Matt Stairs beat out an infield hit and Nick Hundley walked to start the inning. Oswalt then got Jerry Hairston Jr. to ground out and retired Lance Zawadzki on a popup, bringing Stauffer to the plate.
Oswalt thought he threw a knee-high strike on 1-1 count to his counterpart but Marquez called it low, then had a brief exchange with catcher Humberto Quintero. Mills came out and argued with Marquez before heading back to the dugout.
Mills said he was upset that Marquez confronted his catcher.
“He wasn’t turning around and he kept his mask on, so I really didn’t know what was going on,” Mills said.
Stauffer hit a two-run double into the left-field corner for his fourth and fifth career RBIs. Gwynn followed with a run-scoring single for a 3-0 lead.
Mills continued to yell at Marquez from the dugout as Tommy Manzella batted in the bottom half, and Marquez tossed him. Mills ran out of the dugout, and he and Marquez continued to argue before crew chief Tim Tschida came in from second base to intervene.
Mills said he wasn’t trying to show up the umpire or spark his team.
“Either way,” Mills said, “I’m just glad the guys did a good job battling back.”
Mujica relieved Stauffer for the sixth and Lee and Pence hit Houston’s first consecutive homers of the season.
Lee started the bottom half of the ninth with a grounder to the hole at shortstop. Hairston overthrew Adrian Gonzalez, allowing Lee to take second. Kaz Matsui came in to run, went to third on Pence’s groundout and scored on Feliz’s flyout to deep center.
NOTES: Gonzalez was out of the starting lineup with a sore shoulder. He checked in as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the ninth. … The Astros hit back-to-back homers for the first time since Sept. 16, 2009, when Geoff Blum and Jeff Keppinger did it against Cincinnati.