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News » Workload catches up with Astros relievers ASTROS: Nationals rally for five in the sixth Nationals rip Wright, Paulino for 9-4 vi

Workload catches up with Astros relievers ASTROS: Nationals rally for five in the sixth Nationals rip Wright, Paulino for 9-4 vi

Workload catches up with Astros relievers ASTROS: Nationals rally for five in the sixth Nationals rip Wright, Paulino for 9-4 vi
WASHINGTON - As rain fell Monday on Nationals Park, Astros manager Cecil Cooper admitted he would consider a postponement advantageous. The Astros had drained 12 innings from 11 relievers over the previous two days, losing righthander Doug Brocail in the process..

Unfortunately for Cooper, there was no rainout. So once the Astros called on the bullpen to protect a two-run lead in the sixth inning, the Washington Nationals pounced for a 9-4 victory before an announced crowd of 14,115.

"The last couple of days they did a terrific job," Cooper said of his bullpen, which also has closer Jose Valverde on the disabled list. "Tonight we just didn't get it done. It's pretty simple. To get them out, you've got to be able to throw it over the plate, and we didn't do a very good job of that."

Cooper got nothing but disappointment when he tried to squeeze four more innings out of his bullpen, which gave up five runs in the sixth and two in the seventh.

With the Astros leading 4-2, Cooper pulled starter Brian Moehler after five innings and 95 pitches. The Nationals responded with a five-run rally in the sixth off three Astros relievers - Wesley Wright, Felipe Paulino and Jeff Fulchino - to take a 7-4 lead.

It was the second time in as many days Cooper used three relievers in one inning. The outcome wasn't as good as it was in Sunday's 7-5 win at Atlanta.

"I just didn't have it today," said Wright (1-1), who gave up three runs on one hit and two walks in his third of an inning. "It's kind of frustrating when your team hands you the lead, and we fought so hard tonight to get a lead."

Paulino falters

Paulino followed without his 97 mph fastball, giving up two runs on two hits, two walks and one hit batter in a third of an inning.

"I felt fine," Paulino said. "It was just a bad day. I have control of my pitches, but this was just a bad day."

Fulchino collected the final out of the sixth, but he gave up two runs in the seventh. With the game essentially out of reach, Cooper stuck with Fulchino, who gave up two runs on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts over 21/3 innings.

Kaz Matsui led off the first with a bunt single down the third-base line. He attempted to steal second and reached safely after he was hit in the back of his helmet by first baseman Nick Johnson's throw.

Matsui tagged to third on Michael Bourn's fly to center and scored on Lance Berkman's double to center. The Astros added three runs in the fifth on Matsui's two-run double down the left-field line and Bourn's RBI double.

Ryan Zimmerman, who tied a career high with four hits, began the Nationals' attack with a two-out double to left in the fifth. Adam Dunn followed with a walk off Moehler, who made his first start since coming off the disabled list with a sprained knee.

Elijah Dukes cut the Astros' lead to 4-1 with an RBI single to left, and Austin Kearns added an RBI single to right to make it 4-2.

"I wasn't real happy with the two-out walk," Moehler said after giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks with five strikeouts over five innings. "I did make pitches at times. But I could have been better, obviously."

Nationals cruise

Wright issued a leadoff walk to Anderson Hernandez in the sixth. One out later, Cristian Guzman singled through the right side. Johnson drew a walk to load the bases for Zimmerman.

""I came in the game, and I felt great," Wright said. "It was just one of those nights. As a bullpen as a whole, you have nights where you're just not where you would like to be."

Paulino then issued an RBI walk to Zimmerman. Dunn followed with a two-run single to right, giving the Nationals a 5-4 lead.

Astros update

Monday: Nationals 9, Astros 4.

Record: 11-15.

Today: At Washington, 11:35 a.m.

Pitchers: Roy Oswalt (0-2) vs. Scott Olsen (1-3).

TV/radio: FSH; 740 AM and 1010 AM (Spanish).

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 6, 2009

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