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Washington at Houston

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Washington (26-26)000040012781
Houston (17-34) «3010110028152

Berkman's two-out single in ninth lifts Astros over Nationals

CBSSports.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Facing a two-strike pitch with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth, Lance Berkman came ever so close to striking out to end the game.

Given a reprieve on his check swing by the umpire, Berkman came through with one of the biggest hits of the Houston Astros' bad season.

Berkman singled in two runs against NL saves leader Matt Capps as the Astros answered Washington's late rally with one of their own in an 8-7 victory against the Nationals on Tuesday.

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"For me, a check swing is one of those calls in the game that there's very little consistency on it," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "Nobody really knows what it is, what it isn't. If you check swing, to me, that means the pitcher beat the hitter. You know? If there's a gray, it should be a strike. There's a way to take a strike, and it's not in the form of a check swing. It works that way for both clubs."

The Nationals grabbed a 7-6 lead with a two-run rally against Houston closer Matt Lidstrom on RBI singles from Roger Bernadina and Ian Desmond.

But Pedro Feliz reached on Ryan Zimmerman's fielding error to start Houston's ninth. He was sacrificed to second by Kevin Cash and pinch hitter Cory Sullivan's double off the wall in left field put runners on second and third.

Capps (0-2), who leads the league with 17 saves and had only blown one opportunity, intentionally walked Michael Bourn to load the bases, but after getting a second out, Berkman drove the ball to left to win it. He finished with five RBI.

"That's a good come-from-behind win," Berkman said. "I feel like we shouldn't have been in that position. I made a bad throw home, and that ended up costing us three runs. To be able to atone for that late in the game, that helps us."

It was Berkman's 13th career performance of five or more RBI. He's reached base safely by walk or hit in 21 of his last 22 games.

"I made a good pitch and I thought he made a pretty good offering at it," Capps said. "If I'm perfect, I don't have to worry about it. I tried to bear down and execute, and I felt like I did. He had a nice piece of hitting on his part. It's frustrating."

Wilton Lopez (2-0) got the final two outs in the ninth for Houston, which owns the worst record in the NL.

"We just keep battling. Keep battling and good things will happen," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "The pitchers are doing their thing to pick up the hitters almost all year long, so it was nice to see the hitters come through. It was a team effort. It was huge."

Lindstrom spoiled a solid seven inning performance by Houston starter Brett Myers, who allowed four hits and struck out 10 and walked three.

"It's always good to give your team a chance to win," Myers said. "I try to go out there and give our team a chance to win. If I make mistakes, then I try to pitch around those mistakes I do make. I try to get outs as quick as I can, so we can keep our offense in a rhythm."

Houston took a 3-0 first inning lead on Berkman's two-run double and Feliz's had a sacrifice fly in the third for a 4-0 lead.

Washington tied it in the fifth aided by two Houston errors.

Hunter Pence's ninth homer gave Houston the lead at 5-4 in the fifth and Berkman's single added a run in the sixth off reliever Drew Storen.

Notes

  • Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn is hitting .290 with 110 RBI with the bases loaded.
  • Astros shortstop Tommy Manzella had reached base safely in 14 of his last 17 games prior to Tuesday night.
  • The Astros placed right-handed pitcher Chris Sampson on the 15-day disabled list because of tendinitis in his right rotator cuff.
  • The Astros purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Casey Daigle from Triple-A Round Rock to replace Sampson on the 25-man roster.
  • Before his error, Berkman was the only NL first baseman without a miscue this season.
 
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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Jeff Keppinger and Lance Berkman celebrate after Berkman's single helps the Astros defeat the Nats.  (AP)
Jeff Keppinger and Lance Berkman celebrate after Berkman's single helps the Astros defeat the Nats. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

L. Berkman
AB 5
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 5
Washington

N. Morgan
AB 5
R 2
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
 
Washington Nationals
Cristian Guzman , 2B5110014.324
Nyjer Morgan , CF5221010.256
Ryan Zimmerman , 3B1200410.306
Adam Dunn , 1B3100224.269
Josh Willingham , LF4001014.275
Ian Desmond , SS5021011.265
Roger Bernadina , RF4011120.241
Wil Nieves , C3120000.213
a-Willie Harris , PH-CF0001000.179
Craig Stammen , SP2000022.300
b-Mike Morse , PH-SS1000010.250
Adam Kennedy , PH-2B1000013.248
Alberto Gonzalez , PH-2B1000003.311
Carlos L. Maldonado , C1000003.125
Totals3678571324
a-HBP for W Nieves in the 8th.
b-Struck out looking for C Stammen in the 6th.
BATTING
2B - W Nieves (4)
RBI - N Morgan (9); J Willingham (36); I Desmond (28); R Bernadina (13); W Harris (16)
SF - J Willingham (3)
Washington Nationals
Craig Stammen 5.09553415.88
Drew Storen 1.02110002.70
Sean Burnett 1.01000103.12
Doug Slaten 0.11001001.08
Miguel Batista 0.20001004.22
Matt Capps (L,0-2) 0.22201002.88
Houston Astros
Michael Bourn , CF4310200.272
Jeff Keppinger , 2B5130003.308
Lance Berkman , 1B5135111.241
Carlos N. Lee , LF5010004.206
Hunter Pence , RF3221201.277
Geoff Blum , 3B4011022.253
Pedro Feliz , 3B3011100.215
Kevin Cash , C4020014.161
Brett Myers , SP3000016.043
a-Jason Michaels , PH-LF1000001.205
Tommy Manzella , SS1000003.205
Cory Sullivan , PH1110000.196
Totals3981586525
a-Grounded out for B Myers in the 7th.
BATTING
2B - M Bourn (10); L Berkman (8); C Sullivan (1)
HR - H Pence (9)
RBI - L Berkman 5 (22); H Pence (24); G Blum (10); P Feliz (17)
SF - P Feliz (5)
S - J Keppinger (3); K Cash (2)
FIELDING
E - L Berkman (1); G Blum (3)
Houston Astros
Brett Myers 7.044131003.04
Brandon Lyon 1.01112203.63
Matt Lindstrom 0.13222102.82
Wilton Lopez (W,2-0) 0.20000003.86
Game Information
Attendance - 25249
Game Time - 3:21
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Gary Darling, First Base - Bruce Dreckman, Second Base - Paul Emmel, Third Base - Bill Hohn