HOUSTON -- J.A. Happ wouldn't reveal the plan of attack against red-hot Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp, but rest assured the Astros didn't want to let him beat them with the long ball like he's done to just about everybody else so far this year.
Kemp cranked his Major League-leading eighth home run, a two-run shot in the first inning off Happ, to give the Dodgers all the offense they would need to send the Astros to their eighth loss in their last 10 games, 3-1, on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.
"It was frustrating," Happ said. "He's a guy you don't want to let beat you and he did just that tonight. For him, that was probably a bad pitch. Anybody else maybe not so bad. It was definitely frustrating. He's a heck of a hitter."
After getting 17 hits and 11 runs on Thursday in Washington, the Astros were stifled by Dodgers left-hander Ted Lilly (2-0), who pitched around six walks and held the Astros to four hits and one run in six innings. He improved to 8-3 all-time against Houston.
"He was just nitpicking," Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez said. "I felt like he didn't make a lot of mistakes. At least to me, he didn't miss any down the middle. He would just go low and away, low and in, corner, up and away, and he just really didn't give you anything to hit."
Happ still managed his third quality start in as many outings this year by throwing six innings and allowing eight hits, three runs and four walks, which was more than he had allowed his first two starts combined.
"I wasn't quite as sharp as the first two [outings]," Happ said. "I felt like I was making quality pitches and not missing by much, that's for sure. They battled, too. They were tough and had good at-bats. I guess their guy was a little bit better tonight on the mound."
Kemp staked the Dodgers to a 2-0 lead with his opposite-field homer in the first inning, and Andre Ethier made it 3-0 with an RBI single in the third. Kemp was 3-for-3 with a walk and his eight homers through 14 games ties a Dodgers franchise reord. Chris Snyder drove home the Astros' only run with a two-out hit in the fourth, but Houston threatened in the fifth.
The Astros had runners at first and third base with one out when Carlos Lee hit a fly ball to left field for an out. Jose Altuve tagged up at third base and retreated as a wild throw came toward the plate. Altuve likely would have scored had he kept going.
"We'll look at it and talk about it a little bit and see where we're at, but they've got a much better look at it than I do," Astros manager Brad Mills said of Altuve and third base coach Dave Clark.
The Dodgers then walked Chris Johnson to load the bases and escaped the mess when third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. made a terrific play to knock down a Jed Lowrie grounder behind the bag and scrambled to the base to get a force out with Martinez meeting him at the bag.
"It was a bang-bang play, and I felt like it could have gone either way," Martinez said. "Unfortunately, it didn't go our way, but it was a great play on his end. He did a great job. The ball, instead of deflecting off to the side, it deflected right back to third. He stayed on it and made a good play."
Lowrie thought his ball had a chance to sneak past Hairston for what would have been a game-tying hit.
"I don't know how many balls I've hit down the line like that, and not too many of them get deflected back towards third base," Lowrie said. "Usually they're getting deflected towards the dugout. What can you say? Good play? Lucky play? Both probably."
Mills thought Martinez beat Hairston to the base, and television replays showed them converging at pretty much the same instant.
"From my angle, it was safe and the umpire [Alfonso Marquez] was coming from behind and I didn't know if he got the same look," Mills said. "With the third baseman diving to the bag and J.D. coming in from second, I just didn't think it was a good angle for him to get a real good look at it. Dave was right there and he thought he was safe, and from my angle I thought he was safe as well. That was a huge play."
Three Dodgers relievers held the Astros to one hit and struck out six batters in the final three innings in support of Lilly.
"The results were a lot better than I threw the ball," Lilly said. "There were some really nice defensive plays made behind me."