Lance Berkman had a franchise-high of five hits and Carlos Lee hit a game-winning double to lead the Houston Astros to their fourth straight win in a 6-5 defeat of the Washington Nationals.
Berkman, Lee, and Miguel Tejada have put strong numbers in the last few games—making the Astros hard to beat. Houston’s manager, Cecil Cooper, shared positive remarks about the three players with ESPN.
"They're three of the best RBI guys in the league," Cooper said. "It's not easy going through those guys. They're tough to handle when they're playing great. Right now, they're all starting to look pretty good."
Berkman had a franchise-high number of hits in a nine-inning game. The Astros’ first baseman had two doubles, three singles, and drove in a run. Washington’s manager Manny Acta told ESPN they had no answer for Berkman.
"There's only so much you can do against him," Acta said. "He's one of the best players in the league. He's so good."
The scoring started in the second inning, when Nick Johnson homered to left off Houston's starter Shawn Chacon. The Astros tied it in the bottom half when Lee doubled to center to score Berkman, who got on with a double.
The Astros took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the third. Kazuo Matsui led off with a double. Berkman drove him in with a one-out single to give Houston a 2-1 lead.
The Nationals regained the lead in the fifth inning. Willy Mo Pena led off with a single, and moved to second on Shawn Hill’s sacrifice to third. Cristian Guzman doubled to left to score Pena. Ryan Zimmerman gave the Nationals a 3-2 lead with a double to left center.
The Astros tied the game in the bottom half of the inning. After two outs, Berkman and Lee singled. Hunter Pence drove in Berkman with a single to right.
Aaron Boone gave the Nationals a 4-3 lead with a home run to left in the seventh. The Astros tied it again when Berkman scored on a balk by National’s reliever Saul Rivera.
Austin Kearns gave the Nationals their last lead with a home run to left off of Doug Brocail.
Tejada singled with two outs in the eighth inning. Berkman followed with a single and Tejada advanced to third. Lee doubled to deep right knocking in both Tejada and Berkman, to give the Astros a 6-5 lead.
Jose Valverde pitched a perfect ninth to earn his seventh save.
Chacon started for the Astros and pitched seven innings, allowing eight hits, four runs, four walks, and struck out eight. Brocail got the win (2-0) allowing only Kearns’ home run.
Hill started for the Nationals and pitched five-and-one third innings, allowing three runs, eight hits, walked four, and struck out three. Rivera and Luis Ayala both earned blown saves, and Ayala got charged with the loss.
The win put the Astros (17-16) above .500 for the first time this season, and the first time since May 16 last year (20-19).
The Astros play the Nationals again Wednesday at 7:05 pm CST. Roy Oswalt (3-3) will start for Houston against Washington’s Odalis Perez (0-3).