Houston (73-78) at Washington (63-88)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Washington, DC
Temp: 67° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Wed Sep 22, 2010
  • TV: FSH, MASN2
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Washington Nationals hope the momentum that helped them rally for a big win will continue Wednesday night.

They’d also like to see more from Jason Marquis(notes) than what he produced his last time out.

With Marquis coming off one of the worst starts of his 11-year career, Washington will try to make it two straight wins over the Houston Astros as the teams play the third of a four-game set.

The Nationals trailed 3-1 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday before scoring seven times on the way to an 8-4 victory. Former Astro Ivan Rodriguez(notes) hit a two-run homer off the left-field foul pole to tie the score, Justin Maxwell(notes) scored on a wild pitch and Adam Kennedy(notes), Ian Desmond(notes), Adam Dunn(notes) and Ryan Zimmerman(notes) had RBI singles.

It marked the second time this season that the Nationals have had a big inning against the Astros. On May 14, Washington scored a season-high nine runs in the seventh en route to a 14-4 victory in Houston.

Tuesday’s win also ensured Washington (63-88) will avoid a third straight 100-loss season.

“Certainly we want to raise the bar higher than that. But it’s a step, I guess. Winning a little more than last year is a step,” said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. “We’d like to finish up strong enough that there’s a big enough difference that we can say we made a little progress. We feel like we’re making progress, but ultimately, you are what your record says you are.”

Those positive feelings may not last if Marquis (2-9, 7.71 ERA) duplicates what he did Friday.

The right-hander failed to get out of the first inning in a 9-1 loss to the Phillies. Marquis retired the leadoff hitter, but was pulled after the next eight reached safely, allowing six runs and six hits.

“Some nights are going to be like that,” he told the Nationals’ official website after his ERA rose by more than a run. “The breaks didn’t go my way.”

Marquis has posted an 11.37 ERA over his last two starts, and that number could easily rise. In his last three starts against Houston, Marquis is 0-3 with an 8.62 ERA.

Houston answers with Wandy Rodriguez(notes) (11-12, 3.65), who will try for the fourth time to even his record. Since beating St. Louis on Aug. 31, the left-hander has no record and a 3.15 ERA.

Rodriguez took a no-hitter into the sixth inning Friday against Cincinnati, but gave up three runs in the frame before exiting. He walked a season-high six while matching a season-high with 10 strikeouts in the Astros’ 5-3 victory.

Rodriguez defeated the Nationals on June 2, and is 4-1 with a 5.09 ERA in seven career starts against them.

Jason Michaels(notes) and Chris Johnson(notes) hit homers Tuesday for Houston (73-78), which has split six games after a 17-6 stretch.

The Astros will be without right fielder Hunter Pence(notes), who left in the first inning Tuesday with right hip pain. Pence, who is hitting .281 with a team-high 24 homers and 85 RBIs, hopes to play in a couple of days.

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Starting Pitchers

W. Rodríguez Tex vs. J. Marquis Cin
11-12 Record 2-9
3.60 ERA 6.60
178 K 31
68 BB 24
1.29 WHIP 1.70

Scoreboard

Wednesday, Sep 22