Gonzalez delivers on promise

Adrian Gonzalez promised the Padres last winter that he would pay huge dividends once he was able to get 300 plate appearances.

"I don't know why, but it's taken me about the same number of at-bats at every level before I get my swing down," Gonzalez said after going 3-for-4 with three RBIs Thursday in the Padres' 5-2 win over Houston.

The theory seems to be holding.

In 24 games since he eclipsed the 300-plate-appearance plateau on July 5, Gonzalez, 24, has hit .404 (40-for-99) with nine doubles, eight homers and 24 RBIs. He has hit safely in 22 of those games, including a 17-game hitting streak that was snapped July 28 at Colorado partially by a scorer's decision.

"Gonzalez is having quite a season," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said after his club snapped a three-game losing streak and won for only the second time in seven games. "He's smart and he works hard. You can see he's getting more and more comfortable at the plate."

Gonzalez said he was well aware of the Padres' offensive problems (two runs in their previous three games).

"Each time I stepped in there with someone on base, I told myself, 'Get it done,'" he said. "I was more worried about getting a pitch to handle and driving the ball than the runners on base. But I knew the situation."

REPLAY: As a youth in Pearland, Texas, Padres right-handed pitcher Clay Hensley was a fan of the Houston Astros.

"All my friends and family were also Astro fans," said Hensley, who Thursday afternoon made his first start against the Astros with many of his family and friends looking on. The game was in San Diego, but Hensley learned they had gathered at houses and sports bars between Houston and College Station to watch him face the Astros.

Hensley allowed one run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings and picked up the win. Even better, Hensley pitched against the Astros on a retro uniform day with both teams wearing circa-1976 colors.

"It was cool seeing those (rainbow) uniforms again," Hensley admitted. "In the first inning, I was a little amped up. I grew up watching Alan Ashby and Jose Cruz in those uniforms. It was fun to pitch against them. It was exciting. Pitching in Minute Maid Park, that would be the topper."

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