The Houston Astros have played well over the past month, but so
has Washington starter John Lannan.
Lannan will try to continue his recent strong pitching when he
and the Nationals continue a four-game series against the visiting
Astros on Tuesday.
Washington (62-88) is struggling, especially its rotation.
Nationals starters have a 6.00 ERA over the last 12 games and have
pitched a total of 13 innings in the last four, but Lannan (8-7,
4.61 ERA) has been a bright spot.
The left-hander is 6-2 with a 3.02 ERA in his last eight starts,
and has a 2.30 ERA over his last four outings. He gave up two runs
and struck out six in six innings of a 4-2 win over Atlanta on
However, Lannan has lost his last two starts against Houston
(73-77) after winning the first three of his career. He gave up
five runs – two earned – in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-1 defeat June 2 at
Minute Maid Park.
Lannan takes the mound after an ugly start Monday by Livan
Hernandez led to an 8-2 defeat, Washington’s 10th loss in 12 games.
Hernandez allowed home runs to Geoff Blum and Humberto Quintero
during a seven-run fifth inning for the Astros.
The game drew 10,999, the smallest crowd in Washington, D.C.,
since the Montreal Expos relocated before the 2005 season.
“It would be tough for me as a fan to come watch us when we’re
playing bad,” said first baseman Adam Dunn, who had one of three
errors for the Nationals.
Dunn also had a two-run single in the first to give the
Nationals the early lead, but is batting .154 over his last eight
Dunn said before Monday’s loss that he hopes to remain with
Washington after his contract expires at the end of the season. He
leads the team with 35 homers and is five RBIs shy of reaching 100
for a third straight year.
Houston has won six of eight and is 20-8 since Aug. 22.
Carlos Lee, who went 2 for 5 with a run scored Monday, is
batting .394 with three homers during an eight-game hitting
Seeking their third straight win, the Astros will hand the ball
to J.A. Happ (6-2, 3.24), who pitched 4 1-3 innings against
Milwaukee on Wednesday, giving up five runs and allowing two homers
in an 8-6, 10-inning loss.
Happ, who had posted a 4-1 record and 2.17 ERA in his previous
seven starts, gave up three runs in the first inning.
“It was weird simply because J.A. Happ’s been so good for so
long and they were able to jump on him right away,” Houston manager
Brad Mills said.
The left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.53 lifetime ERA in two starts
and six relief appearances against Washington.