Nationals Take Over First Place With Win Over Astros

The Washington Nationals (36-33) ended a four-game losing streak against the resurgent Houston Astros (32-40) on Tuesday, beating them 6-5. The score doesn’t really tell the story of the game, though. The Nats dominated the first seven innings before the usually stellar Tyler Clippard had a rare clunker of an outing in the eighth, making it much closer than it should have been.

Most hitters in the Nats lineup contributed to the Nats cause in support of their six-run outburst. Denard Span, Anthony Rendon, and Ryan Zimmerman all had multi-hit games, Jayson Werth Adam LaRoche didn’t join the hit parade, but both reached base via walks, and Werth scored a run. Even Nats starter Tanner Roark had a 1-for-2 day.

The Nats didn’t delay in giving Roark an 2-0 lead in the first on doubles from Rendon and Zimmerman, and in his next at bat in the third, Zimmerman doubled again to score Werth before being driven in on an Ian Desmond single. Just like that, Roark had a 4-0 cushion to work with.

One thing the starting pitchers had to deal with for the first time at Nationals Park was the extreme heat and humidity, and it showed. Roark fatigued quickly after a seven at bat fourth inning, but he limited the damage to only one run, driven in by Matt Dominguez. He got into a bit of a jam in the fifth after allowing Jose Altuve and George Springer to reach, but he got out of that unscathed. It would prove to be his last inning of the evening, though.

Craig Stammen and Drew Storen each pitched shutout baseball in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, before Clippard entered to pitch the eighth. Clippard hadn’t pitched in nearly a week, and the rust showed. The first three Astros reached base and a run scored before he struck out two batters, and it looked like he was going to squeeze out of the inning. But then Dexter Fowler singled and Altuve doubled to score three more runs, and it was a 6-5 game and the end of Clippard’s evening.

Aaron Barrett and Rafael Soriano were able to lock down the rest of the game, and the Nats just got away with a victory, which gave them a half-game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Joe Drugan

About Joe Drugan

Joe is the Managing Editor of The Nats Blog and host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast. He's been blogging about the Nationals since 2010 and with The Nats Blog since 2011.