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Houston Astros at Washington Nationals: Game Report... "The So-Called 'First Half' Ends With Loss #60."

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Astros’ leadoff batter Darin Erstad starts the Sunday Matinee with a single through second. “Opening Night” Odalis Perez gives up a second single to Kazuo Matsui, up the middle. Pete Orr fields Lance Berkman’s grounder at second, steps on the bag and throws to first for the easy DP. El Caballo, Carlos Lee swings over a two-strike curve to end the top of the first...Houston righty Brandon Backe gets fly balls to center and right from Willie Harris and Paul Lo Duca, respectively, and throws an offspeed pitch by a swinging Cristian Guzman for a scoreless first frame. 


Odalis Perez gets in on Miguel Tejada’s fists, inducing a fly out to center. Ty WIggington takes a breaking ball inside and line it out to right for a solo shot in the second. 1-0 Houston after one and half...AK lines out to El Caballo. Ronnie Belliard beats Tejada to the backhand side for a one out single. Kory Casto follows with his own single to put two on for Pete Orr. Orr lines to center...Darin Erstad slides, but can’t come up with it....Casto’s out at second with no chance on the play. Wil Nieves takes a two-out walk to load the bases for Odalis Perez. Backe gets the opposing pitcher looking for a second scoreless frame. 


Brandon Backe doubles to left to lead off the third, and moves to third base on Hunter Pence’s groundout to second. Kazuo Matsui swings at a two-strike curve in the dirt. Backe stays at third. Lance Berkman strokes a two-out single under Pete Orr’s glove at second and into center for an RBI single. 2-0 Houston. Berkman steals second with Erstad at bat, and scores on a second consecutive single to center. 3-0 Astros after two and a half...Willie Harris works a leadoff walk, but gets nailed trying to steal second. Paul Lo Duca singles to left. The Guzzz takes a walk. Kearns up with two on, one out...grounds sharply to third, Wiggington gets the force at second, but Kearns beats the throw to first. First and third for Belliard...Strike three swinging. 3-0 Houston after three.


Odalis Perez walks Ty Wiggington to start the fourth. Hunter Pence finds the gap in right center and doubles off the out-of-town scoreboard. Wiggy to third. Astros’ backstop J.R. Towles grounds out unproductively to second. Brandon Backe goes down swinging. Odalis Perez breaks Darin Erstad’s bat, resulting in a groundout to first and the end of the inning...Darin Erstad catches Kory Casto’s fly out in center. Orr grounds out to first. Wil Nieves goes the other way for a two-out double, but Odalis Perez flies out to end the fourth. 3-0 Astros. 


Kazuo Matsui singles to start the fifth. Odalis Perez gets Berkman swinging through a fastball. El Caballo and Miguel Tejada both fly out to Willie Harris in deep center to end the top of the fifth...Backe retires the Nationals in order in the fifth. Top of six, Odalis Perez gives up a single to Wiggington to start the inning. Hunter Pence K’s swinging at a high outside fastball. Catcher J.R. Towles grounds to Belliard, to Orr to Lo Duca, double play to end the Astros’ sixth...Austin Kearns finds open grass in left center for a leadoff single. Ronnie Belliard grounds to Wiggington, to Matsui, to Berkman, double play. Casto grounds out to first. Six scoreless for Backe...


DC lefty Charlie Manning gives up a leadoff single to the opposing pitcher. Ronnie Belliard dives likes he’s Zimmerman to rob Matsui of a single. Manning issues the intentionals to Lance Berkman. Manning’s lifted for righty Jesus “Everyday” Colome. Wild pitch advances both runners. Carlos Lee singles in both runners, but gets caught between second and third to end the inning. 5-0 Astros. Stand up and stretch...Darin Erstad tracks Pete Orr’s fly ball into the corner in the wall in center field for the first out of the bottom of the frame. Wil Nieves lines out to Wiggington at third. Ryan Langerhans fouls off a few pitches and then stares at a called strike three to end the seventh...


Luis Ayala vs Miguel Tejada to start the eighth...Leadoff single to right. Ty Wiggington makes the DP easy for DC' s infield. Hunter Pence grounds out to Lo Duca at first. Backe’s back for the eighth, and he walks Willie Harris to start the inning and ends his day after 7.0 IP...Chris Sampson’s on in relief for the Astros...Lo Duca grounds to the mound, to Tejada, to Berkman, double play. Cristian Guzman grounds back to Sampson. 5-0 ‘Stros after eight...The Tallest Pitcher in MLB History pops up catcher J.R. Towles to start the ninth. Rauch issues a one-out walk to Chris Sampson, the opposing pitcher. Rauch throws a two-strike fastball by a swinging Darin Erstad, and gets a fly ball from Matsui to end the top of the frame...Kearns, Belliard and Casto vs Sampson. Kearns fouls the third strike into the catcher’s mitt. Belliard flies out to Pence in right. Kory Casto grounds out to first. Astros win 5-0. Houston takes two of three in DC to end the so-called “first-half” of the ‘08 campaign.


Nationals now 36-60.