Houston (39-53) at Washington (37-54)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Washington, DC, US
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Mon Jul 16, 2007
  • TV: FSSW, MASN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A recent slump has given the Houston Astros sole possession of the majors’ worst road record. They hope to snap the skid when they visit the team with the worst home record in baseball.

After suffering their second consecutive road sweep, the Astros open a three-game series against the Washington Nationals at RFK Stadium on Monday night.

Houston (39-53) has lost 12 of its last 14 games on the road, including six in a row against NL Central rivals. It dropped three straight against Milwaukee from June 25-27, and got swept in three games against the Chicago Cubs over the weekend.

The Astros blew a five-run lead in a 7-6 loss in Sunday’s finale, suffering consecutive road sweeps for the second time this season and falling to 15-31 away from home. They went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position while stranding 10 runners.

“We had good at-bats when we had opportunities to drive somebody in, and we hit the ball hard and we didn’t get anything for it,” said manager Phil Garner, whose team has three road losing streaks of at least six games this year, including a season-high eight-game skid May 10-27.

The Nationals (37-54), meanwhile, are 19-27 at home, where they are last in the majors with only 166 runs scored and near the bottom of the NL with a 4.48 ERA.

Washington won its last two games at home before the All-Star break, but lost two of three in a road series against Florida over the weekend. The Nationals fell 5-3 on Sunday, giving up three home runs for the third time in the series.

“People like to say that speed kills (but) I think power kills,” said manager Manny Acta, whose team ranks last in the majors with 54 home runs and fifth-worst in the majors with 100 homers allowed. “Those guys outhomered us 9-0 in this series.”

The Nationals could snap their homerless streak against Monday’s starter Woody Williams (4-10, 5.34 ERA), who is tied for the NL lead with 21 home runs allowed.

Washington second baseman Ronnie Belliard, who has only four home runs in 78 games this year, is 7-for-15 (.467) with three home runs in his career against Williams.

Williams has delivered three straight quality starts, but has just one win in that span. He held the New York Mets to three runs and five hits in 7 2-3 innings on July 7 as Houston fell 5-3 in 17 innings.

Williams has been a major part of the Astros’ road struggles. The right-hander is 1-7 in 11 starts on the road, where he hasn’t won since May 9 at Cincinnati.

He is 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA in five career starts against the Washington franchise, but has a 5.40 ERA in two starts at RFK Stadium.

The Nationals will counter with left-hander Mike Bacsik (2-6, 5.20), who matched a season high by allowing six runs in five innings of his last outing, a 6-2 loss to Milwaukee on July 6.

Bacsik hasn’t faced the Astros since he pitched two scoreless innings of relief against them in 2002 while with the Mets.

Houston lost three of four games at RFK in 2006 en route to a split of the teams’ eight-game season series last year. This is their first meeting this season.

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Starting Pitchers

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