SAN DIEGO -- It was the kind of late-inning buzz that none of the players had experienced before.
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 left field at Petco Park.
It certainly gave a new meaning to getaway day.
"It's how this year's going. Bizarre things. You think you've seen it all in baseball and you're going to see something new," said Houston's Geoff Blum, who hit a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs.
The drama began with Houston leading 6-1 with two outs in the top of the ninth. San Diego's Kyle Blanks started walking in from left field, trying to get shortstop Everth Cabrera to call time. It ended when a beekeeper obliterated a ball of bees that followed a queen bee under a ballgirl's jacket that was slung over the back of a chair down the left-field line.
"I kind of saw one or two floating around my head," Blanks said. "Then I turned around and there was a wall. I started to walk in and tried to get Everth to call time."
Blanks said he was allergic to bees. "It's not something I want to tempt," he said.
He wondered what would happen if Miguel Tejada pulled a ball down the line.
"It was a pretty thick wall of bees and I really didn't want a piece of it," he said.
"The umpires made the right call to stop the game," Padres president Tom Garfinkel said. "There's a couple thousand bees there. If they decide to swarm on a person, whether that's a player, an employee or obviously a fan, we could have a real situation."
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 that 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 as the bees swarmed around the chair.
Head groundskeeper Luke Yoder thinks they were regular honey bees. Groundskeepers thought about putting a trash can over the chair, but didn't want to take the chance in case they were Africanized honey bees.
"It looked harmless, but let me tell you there was a big ball of bees under that jacket," Yoder said. "Every one of those bees you saw in the outfield, every single one of them went underneath that jacket."
Yoder said he's seen similar swarms at the downtown ballpark, some the size of a soccer ball, but just not during games.
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.
"Definitely a first time for me," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. "I didn't know what happened initially. I just saw the guy walking in. I didn't know exactly what he was doing. Then I started to see kind of the swarm after a while. You don't want to get anybody hurt. That's the main thing."
The Astros outscored the Padres 20-7 in taking three of four. 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.
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 the now-retired Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio -- followed with a walk.
"It was a good series for us," Cooper said. "Everybody contributed for us. For the first day in a long time, we got a big, big hit to kind of break things open."
Blum also hit an RBI single in the first. 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 Kevin 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.