Astros rebound from quick loss to rout Nats

BY foxsports • July 10, 2009

It took the Houston Astros only 7 minutes to lose a game that took over two months to complete.

They put that all behind them nine innings later with a victory over the Washington Nationals.

"Nice win," manager Cecil Cooper said, "particularly after kind of a heartbreaking loss there at the beginning."

Lance Berkman's three-run homer was one of 16 hits used by the Astros in a 9-4 victory Thursday night. The win came a few hours after the Astros lost the completion of a suspended game from May, 11-10 in 11 innings - a result that gave former Nationals reliever Joel Hanrahan the victory.

"There wasn't a whole lot of buildup," Berkman said. "We moved on and got ready for the regular game. It was like it never even happened."

In the regularly scheduled game, All-Star Hunter Pence and Jeff Keppinger drove in two runs each for the Astros, who used a four-run sixth inning to overcome a two-run deficit and take the lead.

Keppinger's triple scored Geoff Blum and Ivan Rodriguez, tying it at 4 and chasing Nationals starter John Lannan (6-6).

He was replaced by Jason Bergmann, who struck out Jason Michaels. Michael Bourn gave Houston the lead with his run-scoring triple that bounced off the wall in left field, and Miguel Tejada added an RBI single.

Berkman's 18th home run was a two-out shot to the Crawford Boxes in left field in the eighth inning.

The Nationals, perhaps propelled by their earlier win, took a 4-2 at the end of three after Josh Bard drove in two runs and Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn each had an RBI.

"I felt once we won the first one, we had some momentum, things were all on our side," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "But we just couldn't keep adding on after we got that lead."

Astros starter Russ Ortiz gave up six hits and four runs with two walks in three innings.

Afterward, unhappy with being taken out of the game, he went on an almost 7-minute long tirade voicing his frustration.

"It became apparent to me from the very beginning of the season that I wasn't going to be given much of a chance or room for error and today is another example of that," he said. "The last two months, I don't think I've really struggled pitching. I struggled today and I'm out after three innings and we come back and win. I don't understand it and I haven't been given a real good reason why I was taken (out)."

Ortiz, who has alternated between the rotation and the bullpen this season, went on to say that Cooper has told him doesn't like a starting pitcher that walks as many people and throws as many pitches as he does.

Cooper discussed his reasoning for taking Ortiz out before the pitcher spoke.

"It looked like things were going to go the other way on us and Russ was struggling a little bit in the zone," he said. "So just sometimes you've got to make a call. It might not have been the popular one, but you've still got to make what you think is the right one."

Alberto Arias (2-0) pitched a scoreless fifth and sixth for the win.

In the first game, an error by Tejada in the 11th gave the Nationals - and their former pitcher - the win.

Hanrahan was traded by the Nationals on June 30 to the Pittsburgh Pirates as part of a deal for Nyjer Morgan, who scored the winning run Thursday. Hanrahan was pitching for the Nationals when the game was suspended by rain in Washington on May 5. He earned his first win of the season and is 1-3 overall. He would have been 1-1 if he won on May 5.

"It's pretty funny," Hanrahan told The Associated Press by phone from Philadelphia, where the Pirates face the Phillies on Friday. "It feels pretty good in the situation that we're in. Houston is a team in our division and we gained ground."

The game resumed with one out in the bottom of the 11th with a Washington runner on first base.

Willingham singled before Bard grounded into a force out to second. It looked as though Tejada, covering second, would easily get Bard out at first for the double play, but he instead threw it far over Berkman's head, allowing Morgan to score for the win.

"It was kind of bizarre the way that one game ended and we only played 7 minutes," Acta said.

Cooper thought his team might have took a while to get going in the regular game because it was down about losing the suspended game. Berkman disagreed.

"The continuation didn't last long enough for it to be disappointing," he said. "I went out there and moved some dirt around and then walked off the field. That was pretty much it, so it wasn't really that disappointing."

Houston reliever LaTroy Hawkins, who took the loss, would have been 0-1 if he lost on May 5. He's now 1-3.


This was the only suspended game in Nationals history, and the first one for the Astros since July of 2004. ... It was also the only suspended game of the season, and the first since Game 5 of the 2008 World Series on Oct. 27 in Philadelphia. ... Lannan allowed 11 hits with five runs in five-plus innings.

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