Washington (57-69) at Houston (56-70)

  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Wed Aug 22, 2007
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Scoring runs has been a struggle for the Washington Nationals all season. Matchups with the Houston Astros, however, have been an exception.

The hot-hitting Nationals look to continue their recent success against the Astros when the teams continue their four-game series Wednesday night.

Washington (57-69) has a major league-worst 497 runs, but has scored a total of 18 en route to wins in the first two games of this series with Houston (56-70).

An 11-6 win over the Astros on Tuesday night was just the fifth time the Nationals reached a double-digit run total this season, and lifted Washington past Florida out of last place in the NL East standings.

“A lot of people didn’t think we were going to win this many games the whole year,” Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “If we can go on a little run, anything can happen. Finishing .500 - that would be a huge accomplishment for us.”

Washington has won its last three games against Houston - scoring at least seven runs in each - and is 4-1 against the Astros this season.

The Nationals, who are trying to win four straight on the road for the second time this season, will give Mike Bacsik (5-6, 4.61 ERA) another start after sending him to the bullpen on Aug. 12. The left-hander did not allow a run or a hit in three innings of relief since being demoted.

Bacsik has a 10.00 ERA and has not received a decision in his last two starts, and is 5-6 with a 4.76 ERA in 16 starts this season.

He faced the Astros on July 16, giving up two runs - one earned - and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings, but did not receive a decision as the Nationals won 4-3. It was his first career appearance against Houston.

Houston will counter with Woody Williams (7-12, 4.92), who is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last three outings. The right-hander gave up one run and six hits in seven innings of a 3-1 win over San Diego on Friday night.

Williams opposed Bacsik on July 16, allowing four runs and six hits in six innings to take the loss. He is 2-3 with a 3.89 ERA in six starts against Washington.

Houston has given up 22 runs in its last three games after holding opponents to two or less in three of its previous six contests. The Astros lineup, meanwhile, broke out against the Nationals on Tuesday after managing three runs or less in the club’s previous six games.

Center fielder Hunter Pence gave Houston a boost Tuesday, playing for the first time since he sprained his right wrist on July 22. He went 1-for-6 with an RBI.

Pence, 23, was a leading candidate for NL Rookie of the Year before the injury. He is hitting .327 with 12 home runs, six triples, 25 doubles and 46 RBIs in 74 games.

“He was certainly playing well,” Astros manager Phil Garner said. “Hopefully, he can get back in there and do what he was doing.”

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Starting Pitchers

M. Bacsik WAS vs. W. Williams HOU
5-8 Record 8-15
5.11 ERA 5.27
45 K 101
29 BB 53
1.44 WHIP 1.43


Wednesday, Aug 22