Houston at Washington

Scoreboard
Houston (73-78)300000001470
Washington (63-88) «00000017x8110

Nationals 8, Astros 4

CBSSports.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- Each baseball season, one team celebrates a World Series championship. Others are thrilled to make the playoffs. And then there are the 2010 Washington Nationals, able to state with certainty as of Tuesday night that they will not lose 100 games.

Might not sound like much of an accomplishment, until you realize that this franchise lost 103 games in 2009, and 102 in 2008.

The Nationals can't lose more than 99 this year, because they earned win No. 63 by beating the Houston Astros 8-4 Tuesday. Ivan Rodriguez's tying homer off the screen attached to the left-field pole sparked a seven-run rally with two outs in the eighth inning, drawing a standing ovation from another sparse crowd at Nationals Park.

"Certainly we want to raise the bar higher than that. But it's a step, I guess. Winning a little more than last year is a step," said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman, whose club is 63-88 with 11 games left. "We'd like to finish up strong enough that there's a big enough difference that we can say we made a little progress. We feel like we're making progress, but ultimately, you are what your record says you are. So we'd like to win some more games, you know? We certainly aren't happy about the number of losses."

Washington had lost four in a row, and appeared set to make that streak five. They trailed 3-0 in the first inning, were no-hit until the fifth by J.A. Happ, then were down 3-1 in the eighth.

But Adam Dunn walked and, two outs later, Rodriguez hit his fourth homer, a two-run shot off Felipe Paulino (1-9) on an 0-2 count.

"Unfortunately for him, he just left me a hanging curveball right over the plate," said Rodriguez, who caught Paulino when they were Astros teammates. "I made a good swing at it."

Paulino's explanation?

"I made a really bad pitch in that situation," he said. "Tomorrow's another day. You just keep doing what you're doing. I feel strong and confident in myself."

After the next two batters reached, pinch-hitter Adam Kennedy hit a go-ahead RBI single.

"I guess when the season is over, nobody wants play on a 100-game loser," Kennedy said. "You don't want to be a part of that."

The Nationals wound up sending 12 batters to the plate in the eighth. One run scored on a wild pitch by Paulino, and others came home on singles by Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond.

Paulino was charged with five runs, three hits and two walks. He was replaced by Matt Lindstrom, who faced three batters and gave up a single to each. Henry Villar, Houston's fourth pitcher in the eighth, finally ended the inning by getting Michael Morse to ground out.

The scattered fans rose to cheer the Nationals after that third out. Tuesday's announced paid attendance of 11,893 was a slight improvement on Monday's crowd of 10,999, the smallest in Washington since baseball returned to the city in 2005.

"Sooner or later, we're going to be past the honeymoon period here," Riggleman said before Tuesday's game. "These fans have been tremendous, and we're going to have to start winning some ballgames."

Well, his team came through in this one, even after a poor start.

Houston went ahead in the first on Jeff Keppinger's RBI single and Jason Michaels' two-run homer off John Lannan. That lead stood up for quite a while, thanks to Happ's six shutout innings.

But Houston's bullpen ran into trouble. Lannan, meanwhile, wound up retiring 12 consecutive batters, and Tyler Clippard (10-6) threw a scoreless eighth, setting up the comeback.

"We're in last place in the standings. We only have a couple more weeks left in the season. But at the same time, it's going to be good for this club to see what we're made of," Clippard said. "We've been going through some tough times lately. Everybody in this clubhouse is kind of looking around and seeing who's going to step up and who isn't. Today was a great sign."

Notes

Astros RF Hunter Pence hurt his right hip flexor running to first on a groundout in the first inning, then didn't come out to play the field in the bottom half. Pence said he hopes to be able to play after a couple of days of rest. ... Astros 3B Chris Johnson hit his 11th homer, a solo shot off Drew Storen with one out in the ninth. ... With a strikeout of Keppinger in the eighth, Clippard became the first Nationals reliever with at least 100 Ks in a season. The team said it's also the first time any reliever for a Washington-based major league team reached that many strikeouts in one year. "It's a nice thing to have on your resume," Clippard said. "It's not something I kind of set out to do."

 
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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Players of the Game
Washington

I. Rodriguez
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Houston

C. Johnson
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 1
 

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Houston Astros
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Jason Bourgeois, CF4120011 .235
Jeff Keppinger, 2B3111111 .291
Hunter Pence, RF1000000 .280
    Brian Bogusevic, RF2000110 .250
Carlos Lee, 1B4000003 .249
    Brett Wallace, 1B0000000 .207
Jason Michaels, LF4112010 .238
Chris Johnson, 3B4131010 .327
Tommy Manzella, SS4000002 .216
Jason Castro, C3000100 .207
J.A. Happ, P2000010 .000
    Mark Melancon, P0000000 .000
   a- Anderson Hernandez, PH0000100 .220
    Tim Byrdak, P0000000 .000
    Felipe Paulino, P0000000 .292
    Matt Lindstrom, P0000000 .000
    Henry Villar, P0000000 .000
   b- Geoff Blum, PH1000001 .258
Totals3247446  
a-walked for Melancon in the 8th
b-popped out for Villar in the 9th
Batting
2B - Chris Johnson (22, Lannan)
HR - Jason Michaels (8, Lannan), Chris Johnson (11, Storen)
RBI - Jeff Keppinger (55), Jason Michaels 2 (25), Chris Johnson (49)
2-OUT RBI - Jason Michaels 2 (11)
SB - Jason Bourgeois (8, 2nd base off Lannan/Rodriguez), Anderson Hernandez (3, 3rd base off Clippard/Rodriguez)
CS - Jason Bourgeois (4, 3rd base by Lannan/Rodriguez)
Team LOB - 5
Houston Astros
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
J.A. Happ 6300360 2.99
Mark Melancon (H,8) 1211020 3.66
Tim Byrdak0011100 3.35
Felipe Paulino (BS,1; L,1-9) 0.2355211 4.84
Matt Lindstrom0311000 4.59
Henry Villar 0.1000000 7.71
WP - Mark Melancon (2), Felipe Paulino (5)
Pitches-Strikes - J.A. Happ 111-63, Mark Melancon 19-11, Tim Byrdak 4-0, Felipe Paulino 23-13, Matt Lindstrom 15-8, Henry Villar 3-2
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - J.A. Happ 4-8, Henry Villar 1-0
Batters Faced - J.A. Happ 24, Mark Melancon 5, Tim Byrdak 1, Felipe Paulino 7, Matt Lindstrom 3, Henry Villar 1
Washington Nationals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Danny Espinosa, 2B4100114 .212
Ian Desmond, SS5111011 .279
Adam Dunn, 1B3111210 .263
    Drew Storen, P0000000 .500
    Sean Burnett, P0000000 .000
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B5021012 .307
Michael Morse, RF4010113 .295
Ivan Rodriguez, C4122002 .272
Roger Bernadina, LF4220000 .255
Justin Maxwell, CF3111122 .146
John Lannan, P1000110 .093
   a- Willie Harris, PH1000011 .185
    Tyler Clippard, P0000000 .500
   b- Adam Kennedy, PH-1B1111000 .253
Totals35811769  
a-struck out for Lannan in the 7th
b-singled for Clippard in the 8th
Batting
2B - Ryan Zimmerman (31, Happ), Roger Bernadina (18, Melancon), Justin Maxwell (4, Melancon)
HR - Ivan Rodriguez (4, Paulino)
RBI - Ian Desmond (61), Adam Dunn (96), Ryan Zimmerman (85), Ivan Rodriguez 2 (49), Justin Maxwell (11), Adam Kennedy (31)
2-OUT RBI - Ian Desmond (29), Adam Dunn (27), Ryan Zimmerman (31), Ivan Rodriguez 2 (18), Adam Kennedy (10)
SB - Roger Bernadina (16, 2nd base off Paulino/Castro)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Espinosa-Dunn
Washington Nationals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
John Lannan 7633131 4.58
Tyler Clippard (W,10-6) 1000220 2.87
Drew Storen 0.2111111 3.96
Sean Burnett 0.1000000 2.40
Pitches-Strikes - John Lannan 85-51, Tyler Clippard 25-14, Drew Storen 21-12, Sean Burnett 1-1
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Lannan 11-5, Tyler Clippard 1-0, Drew Storen 1-0
Batters Faced - John Lannan 26, Tyler Clippard 5, Drew Storen 4, Sean Burnett 1
Game Information
Attendance - 11893
Game Time - 3:13
Temperature - 76
Umpires - Home - Ted Barrett, First Base - Tony Randazzo, Second Base - Paul Nauert, Third Base - Brian Gorman