Friday, August 12, 2005

MLB: Houston Astros 6, Nationals 3 (August 11)

WP: Andy Pettitte (10-8)
LP: Ryan Drese (3-6)

WAS: 59-55 (3rd in NL East, 6.5 behind Atlanta, 0.5 behind Philadelphia, tied with Florida, 1 ahead of New York)

The Nationals left Houston down three games in the Wild Card race after cutting Houston's lead to just one on Tuesday.

Last night, the Nationals fell behind early and ended up down 6-0 before attempting to mount a comeback.

Lance Berkman hit an RBI double off of Ryan Drese in the first inning to put Houston up 1-0, Berkman and Jason Lane each had RBIs in the third to make it 3-0, then Brad Ausmus hit a double with the bases loaded to plate three runs and make it 6-0.

Preston Wilson hit a two-run homer for the Nats in the seventh and Jose Guillen hit a solo homer (his 20th of the year) in the ninth to make it 6-3, but it was too late.

Andy Pettitte threw eight innings, giving up two runs on just four hits while striking out five.

With every other team in the National League East playing weak opponents last night, it looked as though the Nationals would drop to a last-place tie with a loss, but then every team in the NL East went out and lost last night, so there was absolutely no movement in the standings.

The Nationals now head to Colorado for a three-game series beginning tonight at 9:05. Esteban Loaiza (6-8, 3.63 ERA, throws right) will pitch for Washington against Jamey Wright (6-12, 5.85 ERA, throws right).

That was bad, but it could have been a lot worse. Frank Robinson told reporters after the game that it was the lowest point in the Nationals season, but I disagree. They took one of three in the series and kep themselves in the Wild Card race, and the other teams in the NL East didn't take the opportunity to knock the Nats to last place in the division, as they all lost to weak opponents last night.

Also, the Nats now head to another park that will help their bats, Coors Field in Colorado, where they will face the Rockies for a three-game set. No one else in the division or the Wild Card race is facing tough teams this weekend, but none are facing teams as bad as the Rockies, either.

Houston face Pittsburgh, Philadelphia gets the Padres, Florida goes against San Francisco, and the Mets head to Los Angeles.

The situation isn't great, because you'd love every other team to be playing the Cardinals every day, but what you have to hope for in a situation like this is that you sweep while the other teams only take two of three so you can pick up a game on all of them.

Despite the skid, the Nats haven't looked helpless in games and have had chances to win, so only the completely faithless should be thinking that they won't break out of this slump.

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