Apr 19, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Edwin Jackson (33) throws in the second inning against the Houston Astros at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
The only problem Edwin Jackson had on the mound in the first at bat of the top of the first against Houston tonight was when the 28-year-old right-hander dropped the ball after receiving it back from Nats' catcher Wilson Ramos following an 0-1 fastball that had been called strike two on Astros' leadoff man Jordan Schafer. Jackson retrieved it, returned to the mound and struck Schafer out with a filthy 0-2 slider that got a swinging K. Six-straight hits followed, three of them triples, and five runs crossed the plate before the Nats' starter recorded the final two outs of a 33-pitch, 24 strike, five-run opening frame. 5-0 Astros after a half inning in D.C.
Jackson retook the mound 14-pitches later, when Houston right-hander Bud Norris had completed a 1-2-3 first vs the Nationals, and Jackson retired the Astros in order this time in a bounce-back frame, striking out Schafer for the second time, catching Jose Atluve (who'd hit one of three triples in the first) with a full-count slider and getting a weak grounder to second from J.D. Martinez to end a 13-pitch 1-2-3 second. Adam LaRoche singled through the right side of the infielder on a 1-0 fastball from Norris for a leadoff hit in the Nats' second. Two outs later, LaRoche scored from second when Wilson Ramos ripped a 92 mph first-pitch fastball through short for an RBI single that made it 5-1 after two innings in Nats Park.
A 20-pitch third had Edwin Jackson at 66 pitches total, down 5-1 to the Astros. Steve Lombardozzi started the Nats' third with an single to center in front of Danny Espinosa, who crushed a 92 mph 1-0 two-seam from the Astros' starter, sending a double off the wall in right field. Lombardozzi took third on the double and both runners scored when Ryan Zimmer--- THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!! Wait...wait...it hasn't come down yet! 3-run HR to left on a 4-seam fastball from Norris. Crushed. Zim's first HR of 2012 makes it a 5-4 game after three innings. An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth for Edwin Jackson had the right-hander through 4.0, down just one run, and he started the home half of the frame with a leadoff single that was too deep in the hole for Astros' shortstop Marwin Gonzalez to even try a throw. Danny Espinosa followed with a one-out single to put two on again for Ryan Zimmerman, but the Nats' 3B K'd swinging at an 0-2 slider and Adam LaRoche grounded out to strand two in a one-run game. 5-4 Astros after three innings.
A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 5th for Edwin Jackson had the right-hander at 89 pitches after 5.0 innings pitch, and he'd retired eight-straight Houston batters after Brian Bogusevic's one-out single in the third, and 14 of the last 15 after the Astros' sixth-straight hit in the first. Edwin Jackson's line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 5 K's, 89 pitches, 62 strikes, 5/4 GO/FO. Tom Gorzelanny took over on the mound in the top of the sixth, and it got almost as bad as the top of the first. Six hits, five of them singles and one two-run double by Jose Altuve, who made it 9-4 Astros after Bud Norris had batted with the bases loaded and one out and come through with a two-run single in support of himself. Make 10-4 Astros when Jordan Schafer scored from third on a groundout to the mound by J.D. Martinez. A five-run sixth for Houston to go with their five-run first.
The Astros add a run in the seventh with outfielder Matt Downs doubling on a fly to left-center that bounces into the visiting team's bullpen. Downs scored from second on Astros' catcher Jason Castro's RBI single to center to make it 11-4 Astros. 2.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER for Gorzelanny who started the night with a 0.00 ERA and ended it with a 7.36 ERA after two innings pitched. Ryan Mattheus threw a scoreless eighth. Sean Burnett threw a scoreless ninth, but no sweep for the Nats who lost tonight, but took three of four from the Astros. Three more with the Marlins this weekend to end the season-opening 11-game homestand. 11-4 final.
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Nationals now 10-4.