The Washington Nationals may have had the the league’s worst offense last season, but they are trying to shake that distinction and win more games in 2006.
They scored a season-high in Saturday’s 12-8 win over the Houston Astros, and go for back-to-back victories when they play the third of a four-game set Sunday at Houston’s Minute Maid Park.
Alfonso Soriano had a two-run homer and four RBIs and Jose Vidro added a three-run shot and drove in five runs to match his career high in Saturday’s win. Washington rallied from a three-run deficit to record its first win since defeating the New York Mets 9-5 on Wednesday.
The Nationals (2-3) had MLB-worst averages in batting (.252) and runs per game (3.94) in 2005, when knee and shoulder injuries limited Vidro to 87 games.
“I’m just glad I’m helping my ball club win ballgames,” Vidro said. “I’m very happy that I’m as healthy as I wanted to be.”
Vidro has a hit in each of the Washington’s first five games this season. He went 2-for-5 Saturday while accounting for almost half of the Nationals’ 12 RBIs.
“Wait until he starts filling the gaps up with doubles and popping home runs,” Washington manager Frank Robinson said. “He’s gotten off to an excellent start. He looks very comfortable at the plate. He makes a big, big difference in this lineup.”
Preston Wilson has homered in three straight games for the Astros after going hitless in seven at-bats in his first two contests. Wilson was 2-for-5 and drove in a run on Saturday.
The Astros’ Wandy Rodriguez goes for a second win in his second start this season. Rodriguez is 1-0 with a 3.75 career ERA against Washington, having won the last time he faced the Nationals on Aug. 5, 2005 despite giving up seven hits in five innings.
The Nationals counter with John Patterson, who gets to pitch close to where he grew up. Patterson’s hometown of Orange, Texas is about two hours east of Houston.
The 28-year-old right-hander was yanked after four innings Wednesday against the Mets in his season debut and did not receive a decision. He allowed four runs on four hits, two of them homers, while walking three and striking out seven.
He’s been nursing a tight right forearm but isn’t expected to miss this start. He’s 1-0 with a 2.63 career ERA against Houston (3-2), having won his last start against the Astros on Aug. 9, 2005.
“It’s not worse,” Patterson said Friday. “If it stays like this, I can pitch through it.”