Houston (49-96) at Washington (66-77)

Cloudy Currently: Washington, DC
Temp: 57° F
  • Game info: 1:35 pm EDT Sun Sep 11, 2011
  • TV: MASN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Stephen Strasburg’s(notes) return to a major league mound following Tommy John surgery couldn’t have been scripted any better.

The only thing missing was a win.

Strasburg tries again for his first victory in nearly 14 months Sunday afternoon when the Washington Nationals meet the Houston Astros, who will try to avoid a franchise record-tying 97th loss.

In his first big-league game since his right elbow popped Aug. 21, 2010, in Philadelphia to end his much-hyped rookie season, Strasburg (0-0, 0.00 ERA) surrendered only two hits and struck out four in five scoreless innings Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He threw 40 of 56 pitches for strikes and left with a 3-0 lead before the Dodgers rallied to hand the Nationals a 7-3 loss.

Strasburg hasn’t won since July 21, 2010, in Cincinnati, but wasn’t disappointed with the outcome even after the bullpen crumbled.

“It’s a big milestone I’ve accomplished here,” he said Wednesday. “It’s something that ever since I went under the knife, that was my goal to be back pitching in the big leagues in 2011. I was able to do that. Now it’s all about getting stronger, staying healthy and being better than ever for 2012.”

Following his first career appearance against the Astros, Strasburg is expected to make at least two more starts and could pitch in the season finale Sept. 28. He is 2-2 with a 2.68 ERA in seven career starts when pitching on four days’ rest,

Nationals manager Davey Johnson said his young star will not be on an inning or pitch-count limit.

“I’m just going to go by what I see. I don’t have a set number. I’m going to see how he’s going along. I’m not going to let him struggle or anything like that,” Johnson said.

Houston will answer with rookie Henry Sosa(notes) (2-3, 4.11).

After winning consecutive starts to close August, the right-hander took the loss in Monday’s 3-1 defeat at Pittsburgh, allowing two runs, six hits and three walks in six innings.

Sosa will try to help the Astros (49-96) take two of three in the series after they got a season high-tying 16 hits in Saturday’s 9-3 victory. Jason Bourgeois(notes) had his second straight three-hit game to help Wandy Rodriguez(notes) earn his 11th win.

“It’s great to come out and kind of dominate for once,” said Bourgeois, who’s hitting .316 on the road compared to .277 at home.

Houston is just 8-19 against the NL East. A loss Sunday would mark the fourth time the Astros have had a 97-loss season and first since 1991 under Art Howe.

“This year we haven’t played like our record shows. We’ve been playing hard, playing close games, a lot of extra innings,” said catcher Carlos Corporan(notes), who had a career-high three RBIs on Saturday.

Rookie first baseman Chris Marrero(notes) had a two-run single and Michael Morse(notes) added his team-best 27th homer Saturday for the Nationals (66-77), who dropped to 3-5 on their nine-game homestand.

Morse is batting .296 (8 for 27) with three homers and six RBIs over his last seven home games, but has also struck out 10 times.

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Starting Pitchers

H. Sosa LAD vs. S. Strasburg Was
3-5 Record 1-1
5.23 ERA 1.50
38 K 24
23 BB 2
1.44 WHIP 0.71


Sunday, Sep 11