Fans Leave Nationals Park Empty As Nats Fall To Astros 8-2

The Houston Astros defeated the Washington Nationals 8-2 before an announced crowd of 10,999, the lowest total since the team moved to D.C.

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Nationals On Empty Seats: 'We Need To Win Games'

Let's not forget who the low attendance figures at Nationals Park affect the most (after Ted Lerner's accountant, of course), the players on the field. From their vantage point, they could tell that there were fewer fans at last night's game then there normally are, and according to Ben Goessling, they don't blame the fans for not wanting to pay to see them.

Just 10,999 fans watched the Nationals lose to Houston on Monday, and neither Dunn nor Harris could blame the ones that didn't show.

"I feel like, sometimes, me watching us as a fan would probably be pretty entertaining," Dunn said. "I don't know how else to put it. We've got a lot of entertaining guys. But when you look at our record and stuff, why would you come see us, until you actually came and watched? For the most part, our fanbase is pretty awesome."

Said Harris: "Who wants to come out if you're not going to win? We need to win games. Once we start winning games, they'll come out and support us. But until then, we just need to continue to play the game right, and reduce all the mental errors we had tonight."

At least they have the right attitude about it. They could very easily blame the fans for not coming out, but they understand that the only way to draw fans to Nationals Park is to build a winning organization.

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Nationals Fall To Astros 8-2 In Front Of Record-Settling Sparse Crowd

Washington, DC (Sports Network) – Geoff Blum hit a three-run homer and Humberto Quintero clubbed a two-run shot, all during a seven-run fifth inning, as the Houston Astros handled the Washington Nationals, 8-2, in the opener of a four-game set.

Jeff Keppinger and Carlos Lee each had a pair of hits and run scored for Houston, which has won six of its last eight.

Bud Norris (9-8) worked 6 2/3 innings, yielding two runs on six hits in picking up his third straight win. The young righty struck out six and walked four and has now won seven of his last eight decisions. He was making his first career start against Washington. Norris also had an RBI sacrifice bunt and scored a run.

Adam Dunn provided the only offense with a two-run double for the Nationals, who have dropped four straight and 10 of 12.

Livan Hernandez (10-12) was roughed up for eight runs — four earned — on eight hits over five innings. The veteran right-hander struck out five without walking a batter.

Dunn’s two-run double down the right-field line in the first gave the Nationals an early lead.

Norris helped his own cause by chasing in a run in the third. With runners on the corners and no outs, the pitcher laid down a perfect bunt to score Brian Bogusevic that cut the Astros’ deficit to 2-1.

Houston then put up seven in the fifth, sending 10 batters to the plate. Bogusevic’s single, combined with Dunn’s throwing error, tied things. Quintero followed with a homer to left. Norris reached on a two-base error by left fielder Willie Harris and came home on Keppinger’s base hit coupled with a fielding error on Roger Bernadina in center. Lee reached on a base hit two batters later, leaving runners on first and second, and Blum cleared the bases with a three-run shot to right for an 8-2 game.

In the seventh, Norris proceeded to load the bases with two singles and a walk with two outs before giving way to Tim Byrdak, who entered and struck out Dunn on three pitches. Washington went quietly in the eighth and ninth.

Earlier on Monday, the Astros announced their Triple-A franchise will move from Round Rock to Oklahoma City next season…Houston outfielder Michael Bourn missed the game with a right oblique strain and is considered day-to- day…The Astros have won seven of the last nine meetings between the clubs.

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Nationals Take On Astros In First Game Of Four-Game Set

(Sports Network) - Both the Astros and Nationals completed their role of spoiler over the weekend with different results.

While Houston will be looking to win for the sixth time in eight games, Washington will try to snap a three-game losing streak this evening in the opener of a four-game set at Nationals Park.

While the Astros were able to take two of three from the National League Central-leading Reds over the weekend, the Nationals were swept in all three games by the Phillies, who lead the NL East.

Washington looked like it was going to avoid a sweep on Sunday after Mike Morse hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning to put his club in front and the Nationals padded their lead to three runs on a homer by Danny Espinosa and an RBI single from Willie Harris.

However, Drew Storen did not retire any of the four batters he faced in the ninth inning, yielding a two-run single to Ryan Howard and a walk-off two-run homer to Jayson Werth in a 7-6 loss that sent Washington to its ninth defeat in 11 games.

"Storen just didn't have it today," said Washington manager Jim Riggleman. "The Phillies are a great ballclub and showed great character."

Houston, meanwhile, took the rubber match of a three-game series with the Reds on Sunday with a 4-3 victory.Humberto Quintero had a two-run single to back seven shutout innings from Brett Myers, who won his fifth straight decision and extended his club-record run of 31 starts of at least six innings pitched to begin a season.

"We put together a good game plan and I pretty much stick with it," Myers said. "I have to locate my pitches obviously. Early on I felt a little uncomfortable, but I got into a rhythm and it ended up working out for us."

Chris Johnson hit a solo homer, doubled and scored twice for Houston, which wrapped up a 10-game homestand with six wins.

The Astros did lose Michael Bourn to a strained right oblique injury and the speedy outfielder is day-to-day, but is not expected to play in this opener.

Bud Norris squares off against the Nationals for the first time in his career and does so having won consecutive starts and six of his last seven decisions.

The 25-year-old has used his winning run to even his record at 8-8 this year with a 4.95 earned run average. Norris has yielded just two earned runs over his last two starts, with one of those coming on three hits and five walks over 7 1/3 innings of a 3-2 triumph over the Brewers on Tuesday.

Norris turned in the long outing despite getting hit on the left shin by a line drive on the first pitch of the game, but is ready to go for this one.

"The adrenaline kept me going," the right-hander said. "I tried to quick pitch a couple of times and keep moving the best I could. It was a little painful, but I stayed out there."

Norris will have to contend tonight with both the arm and bat of Nationals starter Livan Hernandez, who snapped a two-start skid on Tuesday with eight shutout innings of five-hit ball in a 6-0 victory at Atlanta. The 35-year-old also hit his 10th career homer in the game.

"Pitching is more fun [than hitting]," said Hernandez, who had allowed 23 runs over his previous four starts. "We come every day and try to win. What's in the past is in the past."

The right-hander is 10-11 with a 3.66 ERA after winning for just the second time in his last six decisions. Hernandez hasn't faced the Astros yet this year, but is 10-5 with a 4.23 ERA against them lifetime.

The Astros took three of four at home over the Nationals back on May 31-June 3 and have won six of the last eight meetings between the clubs.

Houston is kicking off a 10-game road trip this evening, its last of the season, while Washington begins a 10-game homestand for its final games at Nationals Park in 2010.

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