• Strasburg Start Two Top 5:
5. Strasburg Start Two: Stephen Strasburg threw a 94 mph first-pitch fastball by Astros' leadoff man Jordan Schafer to start the Sunday series finale with Houston, but the former Atlanta Braves' outfielder worked the count full, fouling off three two-strike pitches before striking out swinging through an 89 mph change on the ninth pitch of the at bat. Jimmy Paredes, whose throwing error cost the Astros game one of the series, singles with one down, steals second, and one unproductive out later scores on an El Caballo RBI single to center that makes it 1-0 Houston early. Strasburg struggles with his control in the first, but strikes out two and throws 31 pitches, 19 strikes before he's out the first...
4. Marrero's Clutch: After Astros' starter Henry Sosa throws a quick 7-pitch, 1-2-3 first, Strasburg's quickly back on the mound, and still struggling. The Houston hitters keep fouling off Strasburg's fastballs and they stretch the 23-year-old right-hander to 15 pitches in a scoreless frame which has him at 46 after two. Could be a short outing for the '09 no. 1 overall pick, but the Nationals tie it up for him at least. Jayson Werth's broken bat spinner dies on the infield grass for a single. Danny Espinosa's opposite double ends up in the left field corner, moving Werth around to third and Chris Marrero's sac fly to right is deep enough to get Werth in, tying it at 1-1 after two.
3. Back-To-Back-To-Back: 11 pitches, 9 strikes for Strasburg in a 1-2-3 third, and the right-hander's up to 57 pitches after just 3.0 IP this afternoon, but he'll have a lead to work with when/if he returns to the mound. Ian Desmond jacks HR no. 8 of 2011 out to left, taking a 2-1 change from Astros' starter Henry Sosa over the Nationals Dream Foundation logo on the left field wall. 2-1 Nationals. Rick Ankiel makes it 3-1 four pitches later, sending his 9th HR of 2011 into the visitor's bullpen and then Ryan Zimmerma---THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! Back-to-back-to-back. Zimmerman hits one into the Red Porch seats above the W.B. Mason sign. The Nats hit three-straight off Henry Sosa and take a 4-1 lead. Zimmerman's 12th of 2011. Two outs later Danny Espinosa doubles to left and scores when Chris Marrero follows with a double of his own, 5-1 Washington.
2. Early Exit: Corey Brown hit for Strasburg in the bottom of the third, ending the right-hander's day earlier than expected after 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 K's, 57 pitches, 39 strikes, 2/2 GO/FO. 5-1 Nats. That's one more pitch than Strasburg threw in 5.0 IP in his first start, and probably much less work than the starter expected, but he was laboring, the Astros were battling, fouling off pitches and running up his pitch count, so no surprise that he's done early. Tom Gorzelanny throws a 14-pitch fourth to preserve the Nats' four-run lead.
1. Piling On: Tom Gorzelanny gets Washington through the top of the sixth, giving up a leadoff walk to J.D. Martinez then erasing it one out later on a 6-4-3 inning-ending DP. 3.0 scoreless for Gorzelanny, 1 H, 2 BB, 0 runs allowed, 39 pitches thrown. Ian Desmond hits an opposite field one-out single to right in the Nats' half of the sixth, and one out later, Ryan Zimmerman's bloop single to center brings Desmond in and makes it 6-1 Nationals. Astros' right-hander Lance Pendleton strikes the first two batters he faces out then hits Chris Marrero and Wilson Ramos (in the head, scary) to set Laynce Nix up with an RBI opportunity he cashes in with a bloop single to center, 7-1 Nationals. Ian Desmond singles to center to drive Ramos in, 8-1 Nats after seven.
0. Quick Wrap: Henry Rodriguez gives up two singles, but throws a scoreless top of the eighth. Doug Slaten takes over in the ninth, gives up a one-out double and has a run score on a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman, but that's as close as Houston gets. 8-2 Nats final. The Nationals take two of three from the Astros. Tom Gorzelanny earns the curly-W for his 3.0 innings of work in relief of Stephen Strasburg. Desmond, Zimmerman, Espinosa and Marrero with multiple hits each. Desi, Ankiel and Zim with back-to-back-to-back jacks in the third. The last time Washington hitters smacked three consecutive HR's? Anyone? 7/11/09 vs Houston when Nick Johnson, Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn went back-to-back-to-back off Astros' RHP Felipe Paulino. 8-2 Nats win.
• Miss The Game? The DC Faithful Were Sorta Watching...
• Doghouse's Post Game WPA Graph: "Game 144: WINnerific WIN Parade of WIN":
- Shaky: Stephen Strasburg (+3.8%) gets blooped and works some long counts for only 3 IP, but gets 4 Ks and only gives up 1 ER.
- Okay, I'll call it a comeback: Danny Espinosa (+10.4%) leads the WPA parade today, going 2-4 with a pair of doubles, including one to left in the 2nd that set up the tying run (+9.7%).
- D1ng3r! Ian Desmond (+9.8%) also represents for the middle infield, going 2-5 with a 3rd-inning solo shot for the early lead (+12.0%).
- D1ng3r! D1ng3r! Rick Ankiel (+8.7%) goes back-to-back after Desi's jack (+9.9%), while Ryan Zimmerman (+7.8%) makes it back-to-back-to-back on the next at-bat (+7.2%).
- Gorzilla smash! Tom Gorzelanny (+9.4%) "picks his teammate up," throwing 3 clean innings in relief.
Nationals now 67-77.