• Leadoff Walk? [shakes head]: 19-year-old Washington Nationals' outfielder Bryce Harper worked the count full but K'd swinging at a fastball outside from 21-year-old Houston Astros' right-hander Jordan Lyles for out no.2 in the top of the first. Harper asked home plate ump Mark Carlson if he'd swung at a strike as he headed back in to the dugout. A line drive to left from Ryan Zimmerman right to Ben Francisco ended a 14-pitch 1st by Houston's '08 1st Round pick. Washington's '07 1st Round pick Ross Detwiler missed with a 3-1 fastball outside to walk Astros' second baseman Jose Altuve to start the bottom of the inning. One out later, outfielder Ben Francisco (5 for 9, 2 HR's vs Detwiler) stepped up with a runner on and crushed a 95 mph 0-2 fastball for a line drive HR to left that cleared the Crawford Boxes for a 2-0 Astros' lead. Francisco's 6 for 10 w/ 3 HR's vs Detwiler now.
• Lyles Returns Favor: Jordan Lyles retired the first five batters he faced before issuing a two-out walk to Roger Bernadina in the top of the second. The Astros' 21-year-old second-year starter then served up a 92 mph first-pitch fastball inside to Danny Espinosa that the Nats' shortstop sent out to a lucky fan in the second deck in right field in Minute Maid Park for Espinosa's 11th HR of 2012 and a 2-2 game in the second inning in Houston. An eight-pitch, 1-2-3 2nd by Nats' starter Ross Detwiler had the 26-year-old lefty at 26 pitches after 2.0 innings against the Astros...
• 10-Straight: Ross Detwiler. Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper went down in order in a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the third by Jordan Lyles. The Nationals' starter got Lyles swinging to retire the sixth-straight Astros' batter after Francisco's HR in the bottom of the first. Jose Altuve and Marwin Gonzalez both rolled a weak grounders out to Danny Espinosa at short and Detwiler was through a six-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth. Still 2-2. Zimmerman, LaRoche and Morse went down in order in a 14-pitch 4th by Lyles, who got Morse swinging at a 2-2 slider for his 4th K in 4.0 IP.
Ben Francisco was 6 for 11 vs Detwiler in his career after he flew out to the Shark [CHOMP!] at the base of Tal's Hill in center field in Minute Maid Park for out no.1 of the Astros' fourth. One out later, Steve Pearce lined an 0-1 slider to center to break up Detwiler's streak at ten-in-a-row set down and Matt Downs lined to left in the next at bat for the second-straight two-out hit off of the Nats' lefty, but Detwiler got debuting Astros' center fielder Brandon Barnes to ground out to second to end a 17-pitch inning at 49 pitches overall. Still 2-2 in Houston.
• Cy Lyles: Jordan Lyles had retired nine Nationals' batters in a row before Jesus Flores' two-out double to the right field corner in Minute Maid Park in the top of the fifth. The Nats' catcher's 12th double of 2012 was just Washington's second hit in 4.2 innings against the Astros' right-handed starter. Lyles had 5.0 two-hit innings up on the board after Ross Detwiler grounded out to first to end the top of the frame. Danny Espinosa backhanded a grounder deep in the hole at short and made a strong throw to first in time to get Houston's catcher Chris Snyder for the first out of the Astros' fifth. Detwiler needed just 16 pitches to retire the side in order in the bottom of the frame, after which he was up to 65 on the night.
• 14 Hits Last Night, Remember: Jordan Lyles walked Bryce Harper with two down, but the second free pass allowed by the Astros' right-hander didn't cost him as he got Zimmerman swinging for out no.2 and got LaRoche on a line drive to center that Brandon Barnes caught for out no.3 of a 20-pitch 6th that had him at 92 pitches overall. Ross Detwiler gave up a one-out walk to Ben Francisco before Justin Maxell rolled one out to third where Nats' 3B Ryan Zimmerman started an inning-ending 5-4-3 that had Detwiler through a nine-pitch frame. 74 pitches overall through 6.0 by the Nationals' lefty. Still 2-2 in Houston.
• Det = Legit: Roger Bernadina took the third walk of the game issued by Lyles with one out in the seventh, but two quick outs later, the Astros' starter was through a 17-pitch seventh with the score still tied at 2-2. Steve Pearce caught a sharp line drive off Jesus Flores' bat for the final out of the Nats' seventh, then grounded out to second to start the home-half of the frame. Two groundouts followed and after an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, Detwiler was done for the night, replaced by pinch hitter Jayson Werth in the top of the eighth...
• Detwiler's Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K's, 1 HR, 85 P, 55 S, 12/4 GO/FO.
• Still 2-2: Jayson Werth collected the Nats' third hit of the game with a line drive to right that ended Lyles' night. Left-handed reliever Wesley Wright took over for the Astros and got Steve Lombardozzi looking at a 2-2 curve for out no.1. Bryce Harper K'd chasing a filthy 2-2 curve from Wright. Right-hander Fernando Rodriguez took over with two down and Ryan Zimmerman due up and threw a 1-2 heater by the Nats' third baseman for out no.3 of the Nats' eighth. Michael Gonzalez retired Chris Snyder and Brett Wallace for the first two outs of the Astros' eighth, but Ryan Zimmerman could only knock a hot-shot off Jose Altuve's bat down to hold the infielder to an infield single. Altuve stole second with Marwin Gonzalez at the plate, but the Nats' Gonzalez popped the Astros' up to end the eighth inning in Houston with the score still tied at 2-2.
• WP/PB: After Fernando Rodriguez popped Adam LaRoche up, leaving LaRoche 0 for 4 tonight, he struck Michael Morse (0 for 4, 2 K's) out for the second out of the Nationals' ninth. Roger Bernadina popped out to short for out no.3 in a 14-pitch inning by the Astros' reliever. Ryan Mattheus took over for Washington in Houston's ninth, retiring Ben Francisco and Justin Maxwell before issuing a two-out walk to Steve Pearce. A wild pitch/passed ball put the winning run on second with Scott Moore up and the eighth-straight ball (the last one intentional) put two runners on with two out, but Brian Bogusevic grounded out to first to end the ninth. Still 2-2.
• FREE BASEBALL!!: After last night's game, the Astros were 0-10 in extra innings on the year. Hard-throwing right-hander Wilton Lopez got Espinosa swinging and caught a broken bat liner back to the mound for the first two outs of the 10th. Pinch hitter Chad Tracy doubled to center with two down, sliding in wildly as Justin Maxwell sailed the throw in, but Steve Lombardozzi K'd looking to end the top of the inning. Tom Gorzelanny took over in the bottom of the inning and issued a leadoff walk to Astros' catcher Chris Snyder. Houston pitch Lucas Harrell came on to run at first. Brett Wallace failed to get a bunt down, then K'd swinging for the first out of the inning and Jose Altuve rolled one out to short to start an inning-ending 6-4-3.
• 11th: Astros' right-hander Mickey Storey set Bryce Harper (0 for 4, 2 K's), Ryan Zimmerman (0 for 5, 4 K's) and Adam LaRoche (0 for 5) down in order in a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 11th. Still 2-2. Nats' lefty Tom Gorzelanny came back for the eleventh and popped Marwin Gonzalez up with one pitch. Drew Storen replaced Gorzelanny on the mound with one out and got a groundout to third from Ben Francisco and a swinging K from Justin Maxwell to send the game to the 12th. Still tied at 2-2.
• Tal's Hill's Far Away: Michael Morse started the top of the 12th with a 430+ft double to Tal's Hill in center field. After hitting his 12th two-bagger of 2012, Morse was replaced on the basepaths by Cesar Izturis, who made his Nats' debut as a pinch runner. (16-game hit streak for Morse.) Roger Bernadina bunted Izturis over to third. Danny Espinosa stepped up (and after homering for the Nats' only other runs in the game) came through with a dribbler back up the middle that got through the infield and allowed Izturis to score. 3-2 Nationals.
• Ready or Not: Tyler Clippard came on in the bottom of the 12th looking for save no.23 of 2012. Steve Pearce tried to will a foul ball to left back into play for what could have been a game-tying home run, but he settled for a single on a line drive up the middle Cesar Izturis could only knock down. Scott Moore popped up to the infield for out no.1. ONE!! J.D. Martinez K'd swinging at a 1-2 fastball. TWO!! Carlos Corporan went to a full count and fouled off a pitch that Jesus Flores couldn't hold on to. The next pitch was low and outside and Corporan walked. Brett Wallace got hold of a 1-2 fastball and drove it to center field for a ... [CHOMP!] Roger Bernadina made a leaping catch as he crashed into the wall to take away a game-winner. Nats win. 3-2 final. The Shark saves the day!!!
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