Mike Fiers always seems to be at his best when the least is expected of him. He seems to thrive when he's close to being yanked from the rotation, as he was back in May. On Wednesday, Fiers tamed the Nationals with seven full innings of one-run, four-hit ball as Houston evened the series, 6-1, to snap a two-game losing streak.
Nats can't corral Altuve's fly
(c) Associated Press
Fiers struck out six and needed just 90 pitches to finish his work before handing the ball over to Joe Musgrove and Francisco Liriano to complete.
Washington took the lead first when Wilmer Difo plated Andrew Stevenson with a sacrifice fly in the third. Houston answered in the fourth when Jose Altuve drilled a fly to right center. Stevenson and Michael Taylor converged, it seemed, to catch it just in time but neither reached for the catch and the ball fell beyond them as Altuve raced into third with a triple. Josh Reddick knocked him home with a sac fly to tie it.
Jake Marisnick untied it one inning later with a tee shot off Edwin Jackson beyond the left-center wall. It was Jake's 15th homer of the year and put Houston up, 2-1.
Fiers clung to that lead and so did Joe Musgrove before the offense erupted in the eighth. Max Stassi sent a monster shot off the train tracks against Matt Grace then Alex Bregman capped it off with a three-run bomb off Shawn Kelley for a four-run frame. That snapped a five-game streak where the Astros had scored three runs or less in each.
Thursday's 7:10 Central series finale should shape up as one of the best pitching matchups of the season as Stephen Strasburg (10-4) duels against Dallas Keuchel (11-2). Both pitchers have just recently returned from stints on the disabled list. While this will be Keuchel's sixth start since returning, Strasburg will be get just his second outing since coming back. In his first outing, Strasburg lost to San Diego but allowed just two runs in six innings while striking out eight.
Off the field, the Astros are expected to activate catcher Brian McCann for Thursday's finale. Stassi or Juan Centeno would be the candidates to be sent back to the minors. Carlos Correa and Evan Gattis are also expected to begin minor league rehab stints on Thursday. Lance McCullers is expected to appear for Fresno on Friday.
- Bob Hulsey