SAN DIEGO – Talk about adding a late-inning buzz to a ballgame. The Houston Astros — who once had the "Killer Bs" — beat the San Diego Padres 7-2 on Thursday, but only after waiting out a 52-minute delay in the top of the ninth inning caused when a swarm of bees took over part of left field at Petco Park.
Geoff Blum hit a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs. The Astros won three of four against the Padres.
A beekeeper was called to the downtown ballpark and sprayed a chair and a ballgirl's jacket that had attracted the bees. Padres president Tom Garfinkel said a few thousand bees attached themselves to a queen bee.
"The umpires made the right call to stop the game," Garfinkel said. "There's a couple thousand bees there. If they decide to swarm on a person, whether that's a player, an employer or obviously a fan, we could have a real situation."
After Joe Thatcher's first pitch to Miguel Tejada with two outs in the ninth, San Diego's Kyle Blanks began walking in from left field. Second base umpire Mike Reilly walked toward left to see what was going on.
The game was halted at 3:09 p.m. Five minutes later, both teams were cleared from the field.
The beekeeper arrived at 3:56 p.m., quickly did his job to applause from the fans who remained, and the game resumed 5 minutes later.
The swarm first appeared along the warning track. Later, fans were cleared out of several sections down the left-field line.
Houston led 6-1 at the time.
Garfinkel said head groundskeeper Luke Yoder has the beekeeper on his speed dial.
The bees arrived more than 24 hours before Manny Ramirez makes his comeback from a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy, when the Los Angeles Dodgers open a three-game series against San Diego on Friday night.
The Astros outscored the Padres 20-7. It's the first time the Astros (38-39) have been one game under .500 since they were 1-2 on April 8.
San Diego has lost eight of nine games against Houston dating to last season.
Wandy Rodriguez (7-6) beat the Padres for the second time in as many starts this year, holding them to one run and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked two. He also beat San Diego 2-0 at Houston on May 8, allowing five hits in eight innings.
Blum, a former Padres player, gave the Astros a 6-0 lead when he homered to right on a 2-1 pitch with one out in the fifth, his second. Tejada opened the inning with a single and Lance Berkman — one of the "Killer Bs" along with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio — followed with a walk.
Blum also hit an RBI single in the first. Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee and Berkman also drove in runs for the Astros. Berkman scored three runs, had two doubles, two walks and an RBI.
The Padres loaded the bases on a single and consecutive walks with none out in the third and the heart of the order coming up, and failed to score. Adrian Gonzalez forced Correia at the plate and Kevin Kouzmanoff hit into a double play.
Correia (5-6) allowed six runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked three.
With ace Jake Peavy and Chris Young both on the disabled list, Correia had been San Diego's most consistent starter. He was 4-1 in his previous five starts, with a 2.41 ERA and 29 strikeouts.
NOTES: San Diego's Scott Hairston, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Will Venable started together in the outfield on Wednesday night for the second time this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, those are the only two games since the beginning of divisional play in 1969 that a team's starting outfield was made up of players whose fathers all played in the majors. The other game was June 24 at Seattle.