The first pitch of Juan Gutierrez's Major League career as a starter is lined to center by Felipe Lopez, where Hunter Pence takes a few quick steps to make the catch. Nook Logan catches Gutierrez by surprise, dropping a bunt down the third base line, and beating it out by two steps for an infield single. Ryan Zimmerman lines a double into the left field corner to score Nook Logan. 1-0 Nationals. Dmitri Young lines a double into right center to score Zimmerman, and Gutierrez gets his first visit from the pitching coach. 2-0 Nationals. Austin Kearns hits one off the wall in left center to score DY from second with a double. 3-0 Nationals. Gutierrez had better shake off the nerves, quickly. Gutierrez gets Ryan Church swinging for the second out on an 87 mph change after a 92 mph fastball. Ronnie Belliard takes a fastball out to left and GONE, into the concession stands, through the window in the arches of the left field wall. 5-0 Nationals after a half.
As fun-filled as Gutierrez's first inning just was, the start of John Lannan's MLB career has been equally tumultuous. Thrown out of his first game in Philadelphia after hitting Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in succession after the two had, admittedly, hit Lannan hard early in the game, Lannan was then thrown into the spotlight in San Francisco, caught up in the Giants Left Fielder's home run chase, but able to avoid forever linking his name to the most divisive figure in baseball history, and even getting a swinging K from the Left Fielder on a change in the seventh of an eventual 3-2 Nationals loss. A scoreless first for Lannan tonight. 5-0 Nationals.
Lannan gives up back to back singles to Mark Loretta and Chris Burke with one out in the second. Eric Munson flies out to center, deep enough to move Loretta to third. The beleagured Astros starter Juan Gutierrez, swings like he's never seen a curve ball before, and after three straight breaking balls, Lannan has two scoreless. 5-0 Nationals.
Ryan Church is up with Austin Kearns at first, and one out in the third. Church swings over a ball inside for the second out of the inning. Gutierrez settles in and begins pounding the zone with low 90's heat, and working in the offspeed pitches that have the Nationals batters chasing. Ronnie Belliard shoots a drooping single into right. Gutierrez pops up Brian Schneider to end the inning.
Hunter Pence singles to right on a 1-1 fastball with one out in the bottom of the third. Pence apparently doesn't know that "You Don't Run On Schneider," but Pence tries when Lannan throws an 0-2 curve in the dirt...Schneider jumps up, grabs the ball off the infield and throws in time for Belliard to apply the tag to Pence for the second out of the frame. Ryan Zimmerman backhands a bullet of a one-hopper from El Caballo Carlos Lee, and throws to first to end the third scoreless for Lannan.
Lannan doubles down the line in left and into the corner to leadoff the fourth. Felipe Lopez grounds out. Nook Logan singles to move Lannan to third. Ryan Zimmerman's sac fly sends Hunter Pence scurrying back in center and deep enough to allow Lannan to tag and score. 6-0 Nationals lead.
John Lannan walks the first two batters in the fourth, but gets the first out when Chris Burke to fouls the third strike into Brian Schneider's mitt. Dmitri Young fields a ground ball from Eric Munson, throws to Felipe Lopez, who glides over the bag and throws to first, in time for the inning-ending DP. 6-0 Nationals after four.
Juan Gutierrez is replaced in the fifth by pinch hitter Eric Bruntlett after Gutierrez really does the bullpen a favor, toughing out five innings after his horrendous first. Gutierrez surrenders 6 runs on 11 hits, doesn't walk any Nationals, and strikes out 4...
...Bruntlett flies out to center, where Nook Logan makes the grab. Craig Biggio singles. Lannan walks Hunter Pence on four straight balls. Two on, one out for Berkman. A passed ball lets both runners advance into scoring position. Berkman grounds out to second scoring Biggio from third. 6-1 Nationals. El Caballo hits a 316ft line drive home run to left to make it 6-3 Nationals after five.
Jesus "Everyday" Colome comes on for the bottom of the sixth, gives up a one-out walk, but gets Munson to fly out to right, and Eric Bruntlett to swing through strike three to hold the 6-3 lead through six.
Astros lefty Mark McLemore walks Zimmerman to start the seventh. DY lines by a diving Carlos Lee in left, Pence backs him up, but Zimmerman moves to third on DY's double. Austin Kearns is issued the intentionals to bring up Ryan Church with the bases juiced. Ryan Church's sac fly scores Zimmerman to make it 7-3 Nationals. Ronnie Belliard pops up to the infield. Brian Schneider strands two when he does the same. Stand up and stretch...
Luis Ayala gives up a two-out double to Lance Berkman in the bottom of the seventh, and El Caballo brings Berkman home with a high pop to left that no one can catch up to before it falls in halfway down the line. Berkman scores. 7-4 Nationals. Manny Acta, Nationals Manager replaces Ayala with Ray King. Ray King vs Luke Scott. Lefty vs Lefty. Scott flies out to right. 7-4 Nationals.
Wily Mo Pena's robbed of a pinch hit double by right fielder Chris Burke, who makes a snowcone catch as he nears the wall in right. Dave Borkowski walks Felipe Lopez but gets Logan and Zimmerman to ground out to end the top of the eigth.
The Tallest Pitcher in MLB History Jon Rauch is on in the eigth. Zimmerman robs Mark Loretta, fielding a hard grounder over third and throwing from foul territory to beat out the sprinting runner. After walking Chris Burke, Rauch gets Eric Munson swinging over a change. Mike Lamb will pinch hit. Rauch gets a ground out to short to end the inning.
Brian Moehler pitches a scoreless top of the ninth. Wait for it...
Chad Cordero enters the game in the bottom of the ninth wearing the away grays, navy blue Nationals cap, white cursive "W" stitched above a brim as flat as Gutierrez's fastball was in the first. Cordero to face Biggio, Pence, and Burke. Biggio pops out to center. Pence smokes a double into the left field corner. Cordero trips in mid-delivery and ends up rolling the pitch over the plate, which is a balk, Pence to third. Berkman pops out to Bellliard at second. El Caballo vs El Cordero. El Caballo WINS!!! Home run to left, maybe 320ft this time. 7-6 Nationals. Orlando Palmeiro flies out to left, and Church catches it on the line. The Nationals take three of four on the the road and head to Colorado for a weekend tilt with the Rockies.
Nationals now 58-70.