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News » Astros-Nationals Preview 2009-05-03

Astros-Nationals Preview 2009-05-03

Astros-Nationals Preview 2009-05-03
With Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee off to slow starts, the Houston Astros' offense is not yet clicking. A two-game series against the NL-worst Washington Nationals should help the sluggers find their stroke.

Berkman and Lee look to continue their hot hitting against Washington starting Monday night at Nationals Park.

Despite having two of the NL's better players, Houston (11-14) has scored the second-fewest runs in the majors (92). The Astros, though, defeated Atlanta 7-5 on Sunday to match their total output from the previous three games.

Lee drove in two runs to give him 19 RBIs this season, but is still batting .275 after topping .300 each of the last three seasons. Berkman's start is even worse - he's hitting just .184 with six home runs and 13 RBIs after batting .312 with 29 homers and 106 RBIs last season.

Neither Berkman nor Lee had much trouble hitting against the Nationals (6-17) in 2008, though.

Berkman hit .565 (13-for-23) with a homer, five RBIs and nine runs in six games, while Lee was 13-for-26 with two doubles and nine RBIs. Lee has hit safely in 15 straight against the Nationals, batting .452 (28-for-62) with four home runs, three doubles and 19 RBIs in that span.

While Lee and Berkman feasted on Washington's pitching last season, the rest of Houston's lineup went a combined 37-for-161 (.230). The Astros still won four meetings.

Lee is 2-for-6 with a homer lifetime versus Monday's scheduled starter John Lannan (0-3, 4.61 ERA), while Berkman is 2-for-4 against him in his career.

Washington has had little luck with Lannan on the mound, losing all five of his starts in 2009, and 22 of his last 27.

Against Philadelphia on Tuesday, Lannan yielded six runs - three earned - and nine hits in five innings of a 7-1 loss. The left-hander had allowed one run over 13 1-3 innings in his previous two starts.

Lannan has posted a 3.27 ERA in winning his two career starts against Houston.

"I'm going to go watch some video. I faced the Astros a couple of times - I faced them in spring training and I faced them last year. I'm familiar with the hitters, more so than the Cardinals," Lannan said after learning Sunday's game with St. Louis was postponed by rain.

Heavy rain is also in the forecast for Washington on Monday. The Nationals last played Saturday, beating the Cardinals 6-1 for their third victory in 10 games.

The Astros will counter with Brian Moehler (0-2, 27.00), who is expected to be removed from the disabled list.

Moehler was placed on the DL with a sprained right knee on April 14 - one day after allowing five runs and seven hits in 2 1-3 innings of a 7-0 loss at Pittsburgh. In his first start of the season on April 8, the right-hander was tagged for seven runs and eight hits in 1 2-3 innings of an 11-6 defeat to the Chicago Cubs.

Moehler has also had trouble pitching against the Nationals. He's 1-4 with a 7.42 ERA in seven career starts against the Washington franchise, but hasn't started against them since 2006, when he pitched for Florida.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 4, 2009

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