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Washington at Houston

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Washington1201000026111
Houston «40010200x7131

Lidge survives scare as Astros edge Nationals

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

HOUSTON -- Pitching to Morgan Ensberg isn't any easier than facing Lance Berkman.

Maybe now, teams will finally learn.

Ensberg hit a two-run double in the sixth inning after Livan Hernandez intentionally walked Berkman to load the bases, giving the Houston Astros the cushion they later needed to beat the Washington Nationals 7-6 Wednesday night.

It was the third time since July 8 that Ensberg has made a team pay for intentionally walking Berkman to get to him. The first was a game-winning double against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the second an RBI single against Pittsburgh on July 20.

"It's probably the right move," said Ensberg, who has previously been upset when teams pitched around Berkman. "Lance Berkman is a great left-handed hitter. They're just looking for an out, and the book says go righty versus righty."

Brad Lidge got the save despite a shaky ninth, striking out pinch-hitter Jose Guillen with runners at the corners to end it. Houston moved two games ahead of Washington in the NL wild-card race.

Craig Biggio also had a run-scoring double and four hits for the Astros, who resumed their home dominance after dropping the series opener Tuesday. The Astros are 37-16 at Minute Maid Park, where they have not lost consecutive games since June 4 and will play their next 11.

Jose Vidro and Hernandez homered for the Nationals, who are struggling in one-run games. Once baseball's best team in close games -- Washington had a stretch of 12 straight wins in one-run games before the All-Star break -- the Nationals have dropped 13 of their last 14 games decided by one run.

"These will come back to haunt you in the end," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "We just can't keep making mistakes, squandering opportunities, because it will cost us against the better ballclubs."

Washington's first two batters reached in the ninth against Lidge, but Vidro lined into a double play when Berkman -- who moved from left field to first base in the ninth for defense -- made a diving catch and Brandon Watson was caught off the bag.

After Nick Johnson's RBI double and Brad Wilkerson's run-scoring single, Lidge fanned Guillen for his 28th save in 31 chances.

Wandy Rodriguez (7-5) lasted five innings and earned the win despite struggling against Hernandez (13-5). The Nationals' starter also had an RBI double and a single.

But Hernandez's hitting was not enough to make up for dreadful innings in the first and sixth. Orlando Palmeiro cleared the bases in the first with a three-run double deep down the right-field line, capping a four-run inning.

Hernandez is 1-3 in his last seven starts. He allowed seven runs -- five earned -- and 10 hits, the third consecutive start that he's allowed 10 or more hits.

"Nobody is perfect all the time," said Hernandez, whose five earned runs allowed were a season high. "I felt very good tonight but I had lots of problems in the fist inning."

The Nationals have not strung together back-to-back wins on the road since July 3. They are 3-9 away from Washington since the All-Star break and are two games into an 11-game road swing, their longest of the season.

Vidro's homer in the first was his seventh.

Notes

  • Guillen's appearance in the ninth was his first since he was taken out of the lineup Saturday because of a sore shoulder.
  • Biggio snapped an 0-for-12 slump with his season-high four hits.
  • The Nationals had been 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position before Hernandez's double to score Preston Wilson.
  • Hernandez entered 4-0 in four career starts at Minute Maid Park.
  • Willy Taveras is 5-for-8 in the series. His 40 multihit games are the most by an Astros rookie since Jeff Bagwell had 41 in 1991.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Morgan Ensberg connects on a bases-loaded double as Houston tops Washington.   (AP)
Morgan Ensberg connects on a bases-loaded double as Houston tops Washington. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

O. Palmeiro
AB 4
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 3
Washington

L. Hernandez
IP 6.0
H 10
ER 5
BB 4
K 5
 
Washington Nationals
Brandon Watson, LF5001002 .200
Jose Vidro, 2B4121100 .267
Nick Johnson, 1B5111013 .314
Vinny Castilla, 3B4020110 .245
    Tony Blanco, PR0000000 .234
Brad Wilkerson, CF5011013 .257
Preston Wilson, RF2100110 .251
   a- Jose Guillen, PH1000012 .295
Brian Schneider, C4020001 .291
Jamey Carroll, SS3100012 .240
Livan Hernandez, P3132000 .237
    Hector Carrasco, P0000000 .000
    Joey Eischen, P0000000 .333
   b- Carlos Baerga, PH0100000 .268
Totals3661163613 
a-struck out for Pr. Wilson in the 9th
b-hit by pitch for Eischen in the 9th
Batting
2B - Nick Johnson (24, Lidge), Livan Hernandez (2, Rodriguez)
HR - Jose Vidro (7, Rodriguez), Livan Hernandez (2, Rodriguez)
RBI - Brandon Watson (2), Jose Vidro (26), Nick Johnson (47), Brad Wilkerson (44), Livan Hernandez 2 (6)
2-OUT RBI - Nick Johnson (13), Brad Wilkerson (22), Livan Hernandez (4)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - N. Johnson-Carroll, Vidro-Carroll-N. Johnson
E - Livan Hernandez (1, Wild throw)
Washington Nationals
Livan Hernandez (L,13-5) 61075450 3.51
Hector Carrasco 1.2300100 2.62
Joey Eischen 0.1000010 4.42
IBB - Quintero by Livan Hernandez, by Berkman, Ensberg by Hector Carrasco
Pitches-Strikes - Livan Hernandez 118-70, Hector Carrasco 37-20, Joey Eischen 3-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Livan Hernandez 7-6, Hector Carrasco 2-2
Batters Faced - Livan Hernandez 32, Hector Carrasco 8, Joey Eischen 1
Houston Astros
Willy Taveras, CF4230000 .298
Craig Biggio, 2B5141012 .273
Lance Berkman, LF-1B4000125 .294
Morgan Ensberg, 3B2112311 .295
Mike Lamb, 1B5111015 .217
    Brad Lidge, P0000000 .000
Orlando Palmeiro, RF4033000 .338
Adam Everett, SS4000003 .240
Humberto Quintero, C3110100 .179
    Eric Bruntlett, LF0000000 .215
Wandy Rodriguez, P2000012 .154
    Russ Springer, P0000000 .000
    Mike Gallo, P0000000 .000
   a- Chris Burke, PH0100000 .236
    Dan Wheeler, P0000000 .000
   b- Jose Vizcaino, PH1000001 .240
    Chad Qualls, P0000000 .000
    Brad Ausmus, C0000000 .243
Totals3471375619 
a-hit a sacrifice bunt for Gallo in the 6th
b-flied out for Wheeler in the 7th
Batting
2B - Craig Biggio (31, Hernandez), Morgan Ensberg (24, Hernandez), Orlando Palmeiro 2 (17, Hernandez, Hernandez)
SH - Willy Taveras (4), Chris Burke (5)
RBI - Craig Biggio (48), Morgan Ensberg 2 (87), Mike Lamb (39), Orlando Palmeiro 3 (17)
2-OUT RBI - Craig Biggio (20), Morgan Ensberg 2 (39)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Lance Berkman 1
DP - Berkman-Biggio-Lamb, Lamb-Everett, Berkman
E - Lance Berkman (7, Wild throw)
Houston Astros
Wandy Rodriguez (W,7-5) 5744212 6.18
Russ Springer (H,9) 0.2100000 5.90
Mike Gallo (H,4) 0.1000000 1.86
Dan Wheeler (H,11) 1000020 1.59
Chad Qualls (H,14) 1100020 3.64
Brad Lidge (S,28) 1220110 2.28
HBP - Pr. Wilson (by Russ Springer), Carroll (by Russ Springer), Baerga (by Brad Lidge)
Pitches-Strikes - Wandy Rodriguez 98-60, Russ Springer 12-7, Mike Gallo 4-3, Dan Wheeler 10-8, Chad Qualls 20-13, Brad Lidge 33-19
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Wandy Rodriguez 7-6, Russ Springer 1-0, Dan Wheeler 1-0, Brad Lidge 1-1
Batters Faced - Wandy Rodriguez 23, Russ Springer 4, Mike Gallo 1, Dan Wheeler 3, Chad Qualls 4, Brad Lidge 7
Game Information
Attendance - 34309
Game Time - 3:08
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - John Hirschbeck, First Base - Wally Bell, Second Base - Lance Barksdale, Third Base - Jim Reynolds