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8/21/07 THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!!

     Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas. Game two of four between the Astros and the visiting Washington Nationals. Joel Hanrahan vs Wandy Rodriguez on the hill. The Nationals try an outfield of Wily Mo Pena in left, Nook Logan in center and Austin Kearns in right against the left-handed Astros starter. Ryan Zimmerman, Felipe Lopez, Ronnie Belliard and Dmitri Young around the infield, and Brian Schneider behind the plate.
     Wandy Rodriguez is (6-2) at home this season with a gaudy 1.65 ERA in 12 starts in Minute Maid Park. Rodriguez's road numbers are brutal however, (1-9) with a 7.80 ERA. The 28 year old lefty is in his third season with the Astros, during which time he's accumulated a (26-31) record in 70 starts with a 5.14 Career ERA. So far tonight, Rodriguez has a scoreless first, retiring the first three Nationals in order.  
     Craig Biggio takes the first pitch from the Nationals right hander Joel Hanrahan over the wall in left field for a 1-0 Houston lead. Hanrahan started him off with a fastball over the middle, and Biggio was waiting. Hanrahan gets two outs and then walks El Caballo Carlos Lee, and gives up a single to Mike Lamb, before getting Luke Scott swinging to end the first inning of play. 1-0 Rastros.
     Wandy Rodriguez gives up a single to DY in the second, and then retires the next three batters for his second scoreless. In the Astros second, Rodriguez lays down a sac bunt to move Brad Ausmus into scoring position after the catcher had singled with one out. Craig Biggio takes the first pitch from Hanrahan for a strike in his second at bat, and grounds out to third on the next offering to end the second inning of play. 1-0 Astros after two.
     The Astros Rookie Phenom Hunter Pence is back off the DL. (With last night's starting pitcher Jason Jennings going on the DL with a season-ending injury). Pence is batting .330 in 312 at bats in his rookie season. 12 HR's, 45 RBI's, and 8 stolen bases for the center fielder, who is back for his first game since July 22nd, when he suffered a sprained right wrist.
     Pence flies out to right in his second at bat in the third. The Nationals Joel Hanrahan then gives up a walk to Lance Berkman, and a single to El Caballo to put two on with one out. Mike Lamb grounds into a force at second, but beats out the second half of the DP attempt. Berkman moves to third on the play. Hanrahan goes to a full count with a fastball way inside to Luke Scott, before getting Scott swinging for the second time with RISP.
     Nook Logan lines a broken bat single through Mike Lamb at third for a leadoff hit in the top of the fourth. THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!! Ryan Zimmerman makes center fielder Hunter Pence run up "Tal's Hill" to retrieve a long RBI triple. 1-1 ballgame. DY stares at strike three for the first out of the fourth. Austin Kearns walks to bring up Wily Mo Pena with runners on first and third and one out. Wily Mo gets an RBI groundout, scoring Zimmerman from third when he beats out the double play at first. 2-1 Nationals.
     Craig Biggio gave the Astros the early lead with a home run in the first, and his RBI double to center in the fourth ties the game at 2-2, scoring Mark Loretta from second after the Astros second baseman had walked and moved up on a groundout from Brad Ausmus. Biggio then scores to give the Astros back the lead, when Hunter Pence slices a bloop single to right off Hanrahan. 3-2 Astros after four.
     Brian Schneider doubles over Hunter Pence's head in center to lead off the top of the fifth. Wandy Rodriguez gets two outs, but gives up a single through second to Nook Logan to score Schneider and tie it again at 3-3. Logan steals second despite drawing the pick-off throw from the pitcher. THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!! Ryan Zimmerman takes a 1-0 fastball just over the scoreboard in left, some 316ft from home. 5-3 Nationals. "No Lead is Safe!!!"
     Hanrahan gives up a two-out double to Luke Scott, but gets Mark Loretta to ground out to short, holding the 5-3 lead through five. Wandy Rodriguez walks Ronnie Belliard and Brian Schneider with one down in the sixth, bringing about the end of the night for both starters, as Hanrahan's lifted for the Professional Pinch Hitter Tony Batista, and Rodriguez is replaced by Trever Miller on the mound...
     ...Batista lines a single to center to score Belliard from second and make it 6-3 DC. Nook Logan's third hit of the night scores Batista to make it 7-3 Nationals. THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!! That's 3 for 4 with an RBI triple, a two-run home run, and an RBI single to score Logan for Ryan Zimmerman. 8-3 Nationals lead in the sixth. (Zim's a double away from the cycle with -maybe- two at bats to go).
      Jesus "Everyday" Colome gives up back to back singles to Brad Ausmus and Eric Bruntlett to start the bottom of the sixth. Craig Biggio flies out to center. Ausmus moves to third. Colome gets Pence to pop out to the infield. Lance Berkman lines a 3-1 fastball to right to score Ausmus. 8-4 Nationals. El Caballo goes down swinging to end the sixth.
     Wily Mo Pena singles to start the seventh, and scores from first when Ronnie Belliard lines a double to left center. 9-4 Nationals. Nook Logan lines a single to center to score Ronnie Belliard from second, and a poor throw in allows Felipe Lopez to cross. 11-4 Nationals. Zimmerman? Grounds into a force at second. Stand up and stretch...
     Ray King pitches a scoreless bottom of the seventh. Luis Ayala goes 10 pitches deep in an at bat against Hunter Pence before getting him to chase a slider outside for a swinging strike three and the second out of the eigth. El Caballo singles to right off Ayala with two outs in the frame moving Lance Berkman to second. Ayala gets Mike Lamb to pop out to end the eigth.
     Brian Schneider's at first with a single, Felipe Lopez at bat, Ryan Zimmerman just two batters away from a chance at the cycle...Lopez goes down looking. Nook Logan's fifth straight hit is a single to center. Ryan Zimmerman? Full count...walk! The KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! anyway...
     ...Nationals reliever Chris Schroder comes on to close it. Schroder gives up a two-out double to Ausmus. Schroder walks Orlando Palmeiro. Biggio hits a two-run double to make it 11-6 Nationals. Hunter Pence goes to a full count with Schroder and strikes out swinging to end the game.

     3 hours and 48 minutes after it starts. 17 runs, 28 hits, one long game. 11-6 final.

Nationals now 57-69.