by Tyler Radecki, Staff Writer
Jayson Werth had perhaps his best game as a member of the Washington Nationals and Livan Hernandez rebounded from a string of poor starts, but those efforts were not enough as the Houston Astros prevailed in extra innings, 3-2, to take the series from the Nats, who have now lost four of their last six games.
Werth had his first home run in over a month, his 11th of the season, and two doubles – his first three-hit game in a Washington uniform – and could use this game as a launching pad to a strong second half. The rest of the offense, though, struggled to help the right fielder. He was stranded at second after both of his doubles and the team as a whole was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Luckily, Livan Hernandez did not struggle as much as he has recently, going six innings with just two runs against. He surrendered a run in each of the first two innings, but settled down to keep the team in the game. Houston’s starter Brett Myers was equally as good, though, giving up two runs in seven innings.
Henry Rodriguez relieved Livo to start the seventh and had a 1-2-3 inning, but two walks and a wild pitch from Rodriguez to start the eighth prompted manager Davey Johnson to bring in Tyler Clippard, who got out of the inning with a strikeout.
Neither team threatened again until the bottom of the 11th when Astros catcher Humberto Quintero led off with a single against reliever Todd Coffey and was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Michael Bourn singled to center to put runners at 1st and 3rd with one out, and Jason Michaels blooped a single to right center to end the game.
The loss drops the Nats two games below .500, but they have been due to lose some one-run games after their stretch at the end of June. Coffey has an ERA over six in June and July and, other than a fantastic month of May, has not been extremely effective this season.
It was encouraging to see Livan pitch as well as he did, considering his struggles recently. He was shaky early on, but settled in and got the job done, allowing just seven hits and one walk over his six innings, striking out three. Werth’s big day is especially encouraging because of his lack of power over the last month. He remains optimistic about this team, even saying after the game that he thinks the team can win the Wild Card this year.
Whether that goal is even realistic or not is immaterial, but it shows the team is invested in playing hard regardless of the circumstances, a position not every preceding Nationals team lived up to.
THE GOOD: Jayson Werth had arguably his best game as a National, going 3-for-5 with a home run and two doubles – and both doubles may have been home runs in many other ballparks. He was more aggressive than usual, swinging at the first pitch on his first double and his home run. Today’s game was one Werth can hopefully build on.
THE BAD: Jesus Flores went 1-for-5 with three LOB, and he failed in a couple crucial at-bats. He grounded out with Werth at second in the 4th inning and struck out with Werth on second base again in the 11th inning.
THE UGLY: Todd Coffey recorded just one out in the 11th before giving up the walk-off single to Michaels. He gave up three hits on just seven pitches. A potential trade piece, Coffey has struggled the last two months with a 6.30 ERA in June (13 appearances) and a 6.75 ERA in July (7 apperances).
THE STATS: Nine hits, two walks, eight strikeouts. 0-for-9 with RISP, eight LOB, zero GIDP. No errors.
NEXT GAME: Nats are off until Friday when they face the Los Angeles Dodgers at 10:10 pm. John Lannan (6-6, 3.62) faces Hiroki Kuroda (6-11, 3.13).