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Washington at Houston

W: J. Lannan (3-3) L: B. Backe (2-4)
HR: WAS - W. Harris (1), R. Mackowiak (1)   HOU - None

Nationals 8, Astros 3

CBSSports.com wire reports

HOUSTON -- Two Washington Nationals players who don't get much playing time made the most of their opportunities.

Willie Harris and Rob Mackowiak homered to help the Nationals beat Houston 8-3 on Thursday night and end the Astros' five-game winning streak. They were two of four reserves in the lineup as manager Manny Acta rested some of his starters.

"We don't play every day," Harris said. "The way we went out and swung the bats was really good for us. We gave our regulars a breather. Manny threw us out there, gave us a shot and we came through for him."

John Lannan (3-3) allowed seven hits and one run in six innings and the Nationals snapped Houston's eight-game winning streak at Minute Maid Park. The Astros averaged 7.3 runs and 11.5 hits in their previous eight home games.

Lannan bounced back after giving up six runs in three innings in his last start against Pittsburgh.

"I felt better, my confidence was up a little more," said the 23-year-old left-hander.

Austin Kearns had a two-run single off Brandon Backe (2-4) as the Nationals won for the third time in their past 15 road games. Backe had a career-high nine strikeouts, but lost for only the fifth time in his last 21 decisions at home.

"Nine strikeouts, I'll take it every time," Backe said. "But I'll take less strikeouts to win the game."

Nick Johnson hit an RBI double in the first inning and Harris, making his seventh start of the season in center field, homered to right in the third to make it 2-0.

Miguel Tejada and Lance Berkman singled to lead off the Astros' fourth and both tagged up on Carlos Lee's fly out to center. Tejada scored Houston's only run on Hunter Pence's infield single.

Berkman and Lee led off the sixth with singles, but Lannan got Pence to ground into a threat-killing double play.

"I'm a little disappointed, but I give the kid on the other side a lot of credit," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. "He had command of his fastball and he threw it down in the strike zone. That gave him a lot of ground balls, because he kept the ball down."

Acta liked what he saw from Lannan, even though he struggled to find the strike zone at times.

"That last inning, he had to work himself out of that jam," Acta said. "He worked a 'Houdini' just to work out of that one. The double-play ball was probably the hardest hit in the whole game."

Backe led off the Astros' fifth with a single, giving him four hits this season, tied for the team pitchers' lead with Roy Oswalt.

Tim Byrdak relieved Backe to start the seventh and pinch hitter Aaron Boone led off with a double. Harris popped out and Cristian Guzman hit a hard liner back at Byrdak. The pitcher fell down as he caught it, then threw to second to double up Boone, who was already breaking for third.

Darin Erstad pinch-hit for Byrdak in the seventh and Mackowiak made a spectacular diving catch on his drive down the left-field line.

Mackowiak was Erstad's teammate with the Chicago White Sox last season and joked that he felt bad for robbing his friend of a hit.

"I'm not saying you never want to take it from your buddy," Mackowiak said, "but I know he'd do the same. He wouldn't have given it to me, either."

Ryan Zimmerman singled off Oscar Villarreal in the eighth and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Kearns walked and one out later, Mackowiak homered to left, his first since last July. Mackowiak was making only his fifth start of the season, but his third since April 30.

"It's been a lot easier to be in there once every three days, once a series," Mackowiak said. "When you do get in there, you feel like you are ready. You feel a lot better about yourself."

Houston scored twice in the eighth off Luis Ayala. The Nationals added a run in the ninth off Wesley Wright.


  • The Nationals are 12-1 when leading after the sixth inning.
  • Michael Bourn stole two bases for Houston and is 15-for-15 this season.
  • Johnson has reached base in 27 of 30 starts this season.
  • Berkman went 2-for-3 and has five consecutive multi-hit games. He has reached base in 16 of his past 20 plate appearances.
Copyright 2017 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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Players of the Game

R. Mackowiak
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1

J. Lannan
IP 6.0
H 7
ER 1
BB 1
K 3

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Washington Nationals
Willie Harris, CF4111123 .205
Cristian Guzman, SS5320012 .307
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B5230021 .252
Nick Johnson, 1B3011201 .216
Austin Kearns, RF4112112 .216
Ronnie Belliard, 2B4000024 .197
Rob Mackowiak, LF4122013 .214
Wil Nieves, C4010013 .353
John Lannan, P2000010 .000
   a- Aaron Boone, PH1010000 .282
    Saul Rivera, P0000000 .000
   b- Wily Mo Pena, PH0000100 .235
    Luis Ayala, P0000000 .000
    Jon Rauch, P0000000 .000
a-doubled for Lannan in the 7th
b-walked for Rivera in the 8th
2B - Nick Johnson (8, Backe), Aaron Boone (2, Byrdak)
HR - Willie Harris (1, Backe), Rob Mackowiak (1, Villarreal)
RBI - Willie Harris (4), Nick Johnson (18), Austin Kearns 2 (16), Rob Mackowiak 2 (2)
2-OUT RBI - Nick Johnson (8), Rob Mackowiak 2 (2)
Team LOB - 6
DP - Guzman-N. Johnson
Washington Nationals
John Lannan (W,3-3) 6711130 3.40
Saul Rivera (H,5) 1100000 4.30
Luis Ayala 1222110 4.87
Jon Rauch 1000010 3.31
Pitches-Strikes - John Lannan 93-54, Saul Rivera 11-9, Luis Ayala 34-22, Jon Rauch 6-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Lannan 10-4, Saul Rivera 1-2, Luis Ayala 2-0, Jon Rauch 1-1
Batters Faced - John Lannan 25, Saul Rivera 4, Luis Ayala 6, Jon Rauch 3
Houston Astros
Michael Bourn, CF4010121 .197
Kazuo Matsui, 2B5000011 .257
Miguel Tejada, SS4220002 .336
Lance Berkman, 1B3120101 .368
Carlos Lee, LF4021000 .282
Hunter Pence, RF4011012 .256
Ty Wigginton, 3B4011003 .238
J.R. Towles, C3000003 .164
   a- Jose Cruz Jr., PH1000011 .088
    Wesley Wright, P0000000 .000
Brandon Backe, P2010000 .267
    Tim Byrdak, P0000000 .333
   b- Darin Erstad, PH1000000 .286
    Oscar Villarreal, P0000000 .000
    Brad Ausmus, C1000000 .189
a-struck out for Towles in the 8th
b-flied out for Byrdak in the 7th
2B - Ty Wigginton (2, Lannan)
RBI - Carlos Lee (22), Hunter Pence (18), Ty Wigginton (3)
SB - Michael Bourn 2 (15, 2nd base off Lannan/Nieves, 2nd base off Rivera/Nieves)
Team LOB - 8
DP - Tejada-Matsui-Berkman, Byrdak-Matsui, Tejada-Matsui-Berkman
E - Michael Bourn (2, Throwing)
Houston Astros
Brandon Backe (L,2-4) 6644391 4.64
Tim Byrdak 1100000 0.00
Oscar Villarreal 1333221 5.95
Wesley Wright 1211000 3.75
WP - Oscar Villarreal (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Brandon Backe 98-61, Tim Byrdak 10-6, Oscar Villarreal 37-19, Wesley Wright 14-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brandon Backe 4-4, Oscar Villarreal 1-0, Wesley Wright 1-1
Batters Faced - Brandon Backe 26, Tim Byrdak 3, Oscar Villarreal 8, Wesley Wright 4
Game Information
Attendance - 33433
Game Time - 3:01
Temperature - 87
Umpires - Home - Angel Campos, First Base - Greg Gibson, Second Base - Brian Runge, Third Base - Charlie Reliford