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04/17/11 12:31 AM ET

Bell extends Majors' longest saves streak

HOUSTON -- The save that Padres closer Heath Bell earned on Friday in a 4-2 victory over the Astros was the first for the All-Star since April 5.

Of more significance is the fact Bell has converted his last 37 save opportunities since May 29, which is the longest active streak in the Major Leagues.

It's also the third-longest streak in Padres history behind Trevor Hoffman's 41 consecutive saves in 1998 and 38 consecutive in 2005.

This is the longest save streak in the Major Leagues since Brad Lidge of the Phillies saved 47 consecutive games from '07 to '09, which, oddly enough, the Padres snapped on April 18, 2009.

Bell earned his third save of the season on Friday, though he allowed a run in the ninth inning.

"We still persevered and got the job done," Bell said.

Johnson took winding road to Houston

HOUSTON -- Padres catcher Rob Johnson got his third start of the season on Saturday when San Diego played the third of a four-game series against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. He went 3-for-4 in in the Padres' 5-3 loss.

It was a homecoming of sorts for Johnson, who played one season of college baseball for the University of Houston in 2004, the same year the Mariners made him a fourth-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft.

But if you ask Johnson how he ended up at Houston in the first place, be prepared for a long answer.

Johnson is from Aneconda, Mont., but because the state doesn't offer high school baseball, a scout saw him play in an American Legion tournament in Canada and invited him to a camp in Arizona.

That camp eventually led Johnson to play at Saddleback College in California, where he was drafted after his freshman year (Marlins, 42nd round) and sophomore season (Phillies, 18th round).

Johnson signed a letter of intent to play at the University of South Carolina but was granted a release when incumbent catcher Landon Powell slipped to the 25th round in the 2003 Draft and opted to return to school. Now looking for a new school, Johnson took the advice of pitcher Garrett Mock and looked at Houston, where Mock had pitched.

Johnson hit .341 in his one season for Houston and met his wife, Kristan, while attending school. Kristan Johnson, who is from Houston, had several members of her family at the game Saturday to watch her husband.

It's been a long road for Johnson, who was traded from the Mariners to the Padres during the offseason, though he believes his best days are still ahead of him.

"I feel like I'm still getting better with age," he said. "It's been fun here, being around the guys and learning a new staff."

Johnson finished the game hitting .455 in 11 at-bats with a double and a walk.

Patterson succeeds in tough situation

HOUSTON -- Padres pinch-hitter Eric Patterson found himself in a tough situation in the seventh inning of Friday's game against the Astros.

Patterson was called upon to hit for pitcher Aaron Harang with a runner on third base, one out and two runs already in during the frame. Patterson, a left-handed batter, found himself facing left-handed starting pitcher J.A. Happ.

Happ got ahead of Patterson with two strikes. Then, on a 1-2 count, Happ tried to throw a changeup down and away. Instead, he missed down and in, and Patterson hit a fly ball to left field to score a run that made it 4-1.

The Padres went on to win, 4-2.

"For me, I've always felt like I've hit lefties pretty well," Patterson said. "And when you pinch-hit, you want to do anything you can to get the job done. You don't want to over-think the situation."

Patterson is a career .250 hitter in 72 career at-bats against left-handed pitchers and a .219 hitter in 352 at-bats against righties.

Patterson was in the starting lineup in left field and hitting leadoff Saturday.

Padres pitching Astros with care

HOUSTON -- Astros left fielder Carlos Lee marveled after Friday's loss to the Padres at how San Diego's pitchers were attacking the Houston hitters.

"I think if you look back the last few games, they've got a good scouting report on us, I guess, because everybody is pitching us the same -- backwards and just keeping the ball away from us," Lee said.

"If you look at the game [Friday], I don't think the catcher sat inside one time. They were keeping the ball away from us and going soft when they were ahead in the count and going hard when they were ahead. They're pitching good, hitting the spots."

In the first two games of this series, the Padres have held the Astros to three runs over 18 innings as the teams split the first two games of a four-game series. Right-hander Aaron Harang threw six innings on Friday, allowing one run on three hits.

San Diego manager Bud Black said that because the teams were playing at hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park -- with the roof open, no less -- it pays to be a little more cautious.

"You've got to be a little careful here," Black said. "When you throw inside, you've got to hit your spot. If you leave it over the plate, it's a recipe for disaster."

Things tilted in the Astros' favor during Saturday's game, when Houston put up five runs against Padres ace Mat Latos during a 5-3 victory, which included a home run by Chris Johnson in the fourth inning. Latos rebounded to retire eight hitters after the homer, but he walked consecutive batters with one out in the seventh and was removed from the game.

"I felt really good and was hitting spots for the most part," Latos said. "But I started to leave balls up and started walking guys."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.