Richard is 4-3 with a 2.68 ERA since deciding to zero in on the bottom half of the strike zone. The left-hander will look to continue that success in the third game of a four-game series against the Astros on Wednesday at Petco Park.
"I think Clayton has realized what kind of pitcher he is," pitching coach Darren Balsley said. "Before he was a young kid with good velocity and movement who used both sides of the plate and worked quickly. I think he's realized he's a pitcher with great movement down, more of a ground-ball pitcher who can also jam you inside and climb the ladder."
One of those seven starts came against the Astros. At Minute Maid Park on June 27, Richard went seven innings, allowing one run on two hits with 84 pitches. He earned a hard-luck loss, though, as Astros rookie Lucas Harrell threw a shutout.
"That's pitching," manager Bud Black said after that start. "Clayton's been around long enough to know that's part of pitching. I think he can take solace in the fact that he went out and pitched a heck of a game. He's pitched four outstanding games in a row. Clayton probably is one of the guys that has as good a perspective on his outings -- on baseball -- than maybe anybody in that [clubhouse]."
Richard will have to outduel Wandy Rodriguez, the Astros' ace and a possible trade candidate, on Wednesday. After posting a 2.49 ERA through May, Rodriguez's ERA has jumped to 3.51 after eight starts in June and July.
Despite some struggles, Rodriguez continues to pitch at least five innings. Only CC Sabathia (75 games) and Justin Verlander (71 games) hold longer active streaks of starts of five or more innings than Rodriguez's 48-game stretch.
The Astros have had trouble plating runs when they load the bases. Entering Tuesday, Houston was last in the Majors with a .153 batting average (11-for-72) with the bags full.
"Sometimes you put a little more pressure on yourself than you really need to and really feel like you're the one in the hole instead of the pitcher a lot of times," manager Brad Mills said. "That's what we're trying to walk through with the guys right now. When the bases are loaded, that's when he has to come to us and we have to wait for better pitches."
Astros: Lowrie out 4-6 weeks
Shortstop Jed Lowrie will miss the next four to six weeks with a nerve injury in his right leg, suffered on Saturday in San Francisco.
Lowrie's injury won't require surgery. He will be on crutches and wear a brace for at least a week before starting rehabilitation.
Lowrie injured the leg trying to take a throw from second baseman Jose Altuve when Giants outfielder Gregor Blanco slid into Lowrie's leg.
"When I look at the replay and the way my ankle and knee were contorted, the fact I didn't need surgery is a good thing," he said. "We'll just take it day by day."
On the season, Lowrie is batting .253/.343/.456 with 14 homers and 36 RBIs. His current replacement at shortstop, Marwin Gonzalez, is 7-for-12 since coming off the disabled list on July 14.
Padres: Street maintaining success
All-Star closer Huston Street hasn't allowed a run in exactly a month and currently holds the longest scoreless streak of any Padres reliever this season.
Since giving up a run against the A's on June 17, Street has allowed just two hits in 32 at-bats against. He struck out 15 in those 10 1/3 innings.
"I've kind of made it a point this year not to necessarily get too excited about what I've done," Street said. "It's OK for people to talk about what you're doing well and what you've done, but for me ... being good in a season is being good the whole season, so I feel there's a lot left for me to do."
Manager Bud Black is certainly pleased with Street's performance over the last month but also expects quality pitching from the 28-year-old right-hander who has been a closer for most of his career.
"The thing with Street is he's been there before. He's got the knowledge and the wherewithal to work his way through an inning to get a save," Black said. "Whether it's a three-run save, whether it's with guys on base, whether it's a one-run game to get three outs -- he did it in college, he did it in Oakland, he did it in Colorado, and he's doing it here."
After a 3-for-5 performance on Tuesday, infielder Alexi Amarista is batting .383 (31-for-81) with 18 RBIs in his past 27 games since June 13.
The last Padres starter to give up a homer was Clayton Richard, who allowed a homer against the Dodgers on July 13.
The Astros are 2-48 when trailing after six innings.