Zimmerman extends hit streak as Nats roll

BY foxsports • May 5, 2009

Instead of just admiring his work with the bat, Ryan Zimmerman's teammates are becoming energized by his surge.

Adam Dunn delivered a two-run single during a five-run sixth inning, Zimmerman matched a career high with four hits and the Washington Nationals rallied to beat the Houston Astros 9-4 on Monday night.

"You got to give credit to Zimmerman for staying in there and kind of giving us hope," said Washington's Elijah Dukes, who drove in three runs. "He was hitting, hitting and everybody was (thinking) they might as well join him. We're not going to let him just hit by himself. He's just kept going and we kind of feed off of him."

Zimmerman's first-inning single extended his Nationals-record hitting streak to 22 games. It's the longest in the majors this season.

"I don't really worry about individual stuff. It's nice to get off to a better start and feeling good, knowing the things that I do are working," said Zimmerman, who drove in two runs and is hitting .354 (33 for 93) during his streak.

Washington, which won consecutive games for only the second time this season, had a season-best 15 hits. After watching their bullpen routinely cough up leads, the Nationals delighted in battering Astros relievers for seven runs on seven hits, six walks and a hit batter over three innings.

"I think we kind of got them the same way everyone's gotten us this year," Zimmerman said. "They walked us a little bit, they gave us a chance to have guys on base and have the big hits."

John Lannan (1-3) worked six innings, allowing four runs - three earned - on nine hits and two walks.

Kaz Matsui had two RBIs and Carlos Lee added three hits for Houston, which watched Washington erase a 4-2 deficit with a five-run sixth.

"We fought so hard tonight to get a lead in the game, and when you come in and you're not able to hold it, it's just tough on the morale of the whole team," Astros reliever Wesley Wright said. "Leads are hard to come by, and when you get one, you ought to be able to protect it."

Wright (1-1) loaded the bases on a walk to Anderson Hernandez, Cristian Guzman's one-out single and a walk to Nick Johnson. Felipe Paulino relieved and walked Zimmerman before allowing a go-ahead, two-run single by Dunn.

Dukes' RBI single up the middle made it 6-4.

Austin Kearns was hit by a pitch to load the bases again and, after a popup by Jesus Flores, Paulino walked Hernandez to force in another run.

"When we get into that part of our lineup where we have guys who are so patient at the plate - the Nicks, the Dunns and the Dukes and right now, Zimmerman - there's a very good chance we can do some damage," Nationals manager Manny Acta said.

The Astros have yielded a major league-high 246 hits this season, while the eight walks issued Monday match a season worst.

Houston took a 1-0 lead in the first on Lance Berkman's RBI double.

Matsui's two-run double sparked a three-run rally in the fifth. Matsui scored on Michael Bourn's double to center, but Bourn was thrown out trying to reach third.

Washington finally got to Astros starter Brian Moehler in the fifth, scoring twice on two-out singles by Dukes and Kearns.

Moehler, activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game after missing three starts because of a sprained right knee, allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out five.

"It was all right. I threw a lot of pitches and I'm not real happy with that," Moehler said. "I didn't make pitches at times. It could have been better, obviously."

Zimmerman added an RBI double in the seventh, then scored on Dukes' third consecutive RBI single.


Moehler lowered his ERA from 27.00 to 14.00. ... Nationals pinch-hitter Ronnie Belliard batted twice in the sixth, flying out both times. ... To make room on the roster for Moehler, Houston placed RHP Doug Brocail on the 15-day disabled list. Brocail hurt himself Sunday covering first base. ... Washington LHP Joe Beimel, on the 15-day DL with a left hip flexor strain, had a rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Harrisburg rained out Monday and instead threw a bullpen session at Nationals Park. He is expected to come off the disabled list Wednesday.

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