Lance Berkman had another big night and Carlos Lee got another game-winning hit, as the Houston Astros defeated the Washington Nationals 4-3.
Berkman, who had five hits in the first game, was 2-for-3 last night, with a home run. Kazuo Matsui came up big for the Astros in the ninth.
Matsui led off the ninth with a walk. During Miguel Tejada’s at bat, Matsui stole second. Before giving up Lee’s hit, Nationals’ reliever Jesus Colome threw a wild pitch, which allowed Matsui to advance to third. Lee hit a single over the head of Lastings Milledge to lead the Astros to victory.
Matsui and led-off hitter Michael Bourn have turned the Astros from being a team least likely to steal a base, to the top five in the league in stealing. Lee told ESPN their speed has contributed to wins.
"That's what speed does for a team," Lee said.
The Nationals were impressed with the Astros’ base running especially Ryan Zimmerman.
"I wish we could do that," Zimmerman said. "They get a man on first and a couple of pitches later, he's in scoring position. They're a smart team, they know what counts to run on."
Roy Oswalt started for the Astros, and pitched seven innings, allowed six hits, three runs, two walks, and struck out nine. Oswalt even made an impact at the plate, when he temporarily gave the Astros a 3-2 lead with a single in the fourth.
The Nationals did hit the “long-ball” against Oswalt. Zimmerman hit two home runs, a two-run in the first and a solo in the sixth. Oswalt told ESPN his pitches were not where he wanted them.
"They were just bad pitches, real bad pitches," Oswalt said of the home run balls.
Jose Valverde (4-1) earned his fourth win of the season pitching a perfect ninth inning.
Odalis Perez started for the Nationals, pitching five innings and allowed five hits, three runs, two walks and struck out three in a no-decision. J Hanrahan (0-2) earned the loss, pitching two and one third innings, giving up one run and five walks.
Washington’s manager Manny Acta was pleased with Perez effort despite him being sick on Wednesday.
"He still gave us a good effort," Acta said. "You've got to hand it to him, he was very sick, but he still gave us five good innings."
The Astros close out the series with the Nationals Thursday at 7:05 pm CST. Brandon Backe (2-3) will start for the Astros against the Nationals’ John Lannan (2-3).