Nationals win suspended game against Astros

On May 5, the Nationals found themselves in a wild game with the Astros at Nationals Park, but the two clubs couldn’t finish it, with the game suspended because of rain in the 11th inning and the scored tied at 10.

Washington had Elijah Dukes on first, while Josh Willingham was at the plate. That’s where the game was pick up when the two teams resumed the game Thursday at Minute Maid Park. Washington ended up winning the game, 11-10, in the bottom of the 11th inning.

When  play resumed at 7:08 p.m. ET,  LaTroy Hawkins started for Houston and the Nationals were able to score in less than 15 minutes.

With Dukes no longer on the 25-man roster, Nyjer Morgan pinch-ran for Dukes. Willingham came to the plate and singled to left to put runners first and second.

Josh Bard, pinch-hitting for reliever Joel Hanrahan, who was traded last week to the Pirates for Morgan, hit a routine groundball to second baseman Jeff Keppinger, who was able to get the force at second, but shortstop Miguel Tejada threw the ball over first baseman Lance Berkman’s head, which allowed Morgan to score.

Hanrahan ended up being the winning pitcher after throwing one shutout inning on May 5.

There were six lead changes in the game last May. Left-hander Scott Olsen started for the Nationals, and by the time he left the game after five innings, Houston had a 5-2 lead. But Washington would go ahead by scoring six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt started the inning by giving up a single to Cristian Guzman and walking Nick Johnson. Oswalt then left the game because of a bone bruise in his right index finger. Right-hander Chris Sampson entered the game and had a tough time throwing strikes. Ryan Zimmerman followed with a single to center field to drive in Guzman and cut the deficit by two runs. The hit extended Zimmerman’s hitting streak to 23 games.

After Adam Dunn grounded out to first baseman Lance Berkman, Sampson walked the next three hitters to score two runs and tie the score at 5.

Willie Harris entered the game as a pinch-hitter and struck out, but Jesus Flores walked to bring home the go-ahead run.

Left-hander Tim Byrdak replaced Sampson, and the Nationals scored two more runs. Guzman followed and reached base on an error by Miguel Tejada to allow Willingham to score. Johnson was then hit by a pitch to allow Anderson Hernandez to touch home plate.

Washington’s bullpen, however, continued to have trouble. It allowed Houston to come back and tie the score at 8 in the top of the seventh.

Right-handers Julian Tavarez and Garrett Mock allowed RBI singles to Carlos Lee and Tejada, respectively, and Lee scored the tying run on an error by Guzman at shortstop. Astros outfielder Hunter Pence hit a perfect double-play ball to Hernandez at second, and he made a perfect throw to Guzman, but the shortstop dropped the ball and everyone was safe.

In the eighth inning, Houston took the lead when Mock uncorked a wild pitch to allow Darin Erstad to score.

Washington’s offense continued to shine against right-hander Geoff Geary. After Flores singled with one out, Guzman took the first pitch and hit a two-run homer over the right-center-field wall to give the Nationals a 10-9 lead.

The Astros would score the last run of the day in the top of the ninth inning, when Geoff Blum knocked a Kip Wells pitch for a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 10.

“There were two shaky bullpens that kept giving up runs back and forth. That’s how much I summed up that day,” manager Manny Acta said.    

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