Washington (2-4) at Houston (4-2)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 83° F
  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Mon Apr 10, 2006
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While Washington Nationals left fielder Alfonso Soriano seems to be finding his groove, the same cannot be said for the rest of the team.

The Nationals (2-5) try to salvage a split of a four-game series Monday as they face the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Soriano has endured a turbulent spring after arriving in Washington via an offseason trade with Texas. He initially balked at manager Frank Robinson’s decision to move him from second base to the outfield in spring training.

Then during a 9-5 win over the Mets on Wednesday. Robinson benched Soriano for failing to run out a pop fly.

Soriano’s bat has come around in the last two days, though, as he went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and a double in both Saturday’s 12-8 victory over Houston and Sunday’s 7-3 defeat. He also stole his second base Sunday.

For the season, Soriano is batting .364 (8-for-22) with two home runs and six RBIs—all in the last two contests.

Despite Soriano’s surge, Washington has dropped three of its last four games. The pitching staff has allowed six runs or more in each game over that span while allowing opposing hitters eight home runs and a .336 batting average.

No Nationals starting pitcher has lasted longer than six innings in a game this season.

Meanwhile, although the Nationals matched Houston’s hit total with 10 on Sunday, they went just 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

“We had a lot of chances, we just didn’t cash in,” Robinson said. “We couldn’t get the hits we needed and we gave away too many runs. We’re not making them earn them.”

Washington sends right-hander John Patterson to the hill for his second start of the season. Patterson was bothered by tightness in his right forearm in his outing last Wednesday at New York, when he lasted just four innings and allowed four earned runs on four hits, two of them homers.

Patterson fared well in two starts against the Astros last season, going 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA.

The Astros (4-2) counter with Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez did not post impressive numbers last Wednesday versus Florida, allowing four runs on seven hits and four walks in five innings, but earned the win in a 6-5 Houston victory.

The left-hander was 1-0 in two starts against the Nationals in 2005.

Houston’s rotation has struggled despite earning four wins, with a 4.71 ERA and .300 opponent batting average in six games.

“We got the win, that’s all that matters,” said Andy Pettitte after giving up three runs, seven hits and three walks in 6 1-3 innings Sunday. “It was a struggle again, that’s for sure. My command wasn’t great, my location wasn’t good at all.”

Shortstop Adam Everett was 1-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored. He has a base hit in five straight games and a run scored in each of his last four.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Patterson Tex vs. W. Rodríguez Pit
1-2 Record 9-10
4.43 ERA 5.64
42 K 98
9 BB 63
1.11 WHIP 1.60