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Nats-Astros halted in 11th frame

Nats-Astros halted in 11th frame

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals found themselves in a wild one with the Astros on Tuesday afternoon at Nationals Park, but the two clubs couldn't finish it, with the game suspended because of rain in the 11th inning and the scored tied at 10.

Washington had a runner on first, and Josh Willingham was at the plate. That's where the game will pick up when the two teams resume the game on July 9 at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The Nationals will remain the home team for the completion of the contest.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Tuesday's stats will count and will be reflected in the updated stats on Wednesday.

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"There was a combination of the rain the last couple of days and the heavy downpour we just got. It was too soggy [on the field]," Nationals acting general manager Mike Rizzo said. "It has been a tough early spring for us as far as weather. It hasn't been that real bitter cold we are used to at times, but it has been really wet, really damp."

There were six lead changes in the game. Left-hander Scott Olsen started for the Nationals, and by the time he left the game after five innings, Houston had a 5-2 lead. But Washington would go ahead by scoring six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt started the inning by giving up a single to Cristian Guzman and walking Nick Johnson. Oswalt then left the game because of a bone bruise in his right index finger. Right-hander Chris Sampson entered the game and had a tough time throwing strikes. Ryan Zimmerman followed with a single to center field to drive in Guzman and cut the deficit by two runs. The hit extended Zimmerman's hitting streak to 23 games.

After Adam Dunn grounded out to first baseman Lance Berkman, Sampson walked the next three hitters to score two runs and tie the score at 5.

Willie Harris entered the game as a pinch-hitter and struck out, but Jesus Flores walked to bring home the go-ahead run.

Left-hander Tim Byrdak replaced Sampson, and the Nationals scored two more runs. Guzman followed and reached base on an error by Miguel Tejada to allow Willingham to score. Johnson was then hit by a pitch to allow Anderson Hernandez to touch home plate.

Washington's bullpen, however, continued to have trouble. It allowed Houston to come back and tie the score at 8 in the top of the seventh.

Right-handers Julian Tavarez and Garrett Mock allowed RBI singles to Carlos Lee and Tejada, respectively, and Lee scored the tying run on an error by Guzman at shortstop. Astros outfielder Hunter Pence hit a perfect double-play ball to Hernandez at second, and he made a perfect throw to Guzman, but the shortstop dropped the ball and everyone was safe.

"I give the club credit," Rizzo said. "We battled back. They never give up. But we need to play better defense, and our bullpen has to perform better. It's not an effort problem, but it's an execution problem. But we have to keep improving and keep battling. [Manager] Manny [Acta] has the team really into the game."

In the eighth inning, Houston took the lead when Mock uncorked a wild pitch to allow Darin Erstad to score.

Washington's offense continued to shine against right-hander Geoff Geary. After Flores singled with one out, Guzman took the first pitch and hit a two-run homer over the right-center-field wall to give the Nationals a 10-9 lead.

The Astros would score the last run of the day in the top of the ninth inning, when Geoff Blum knocked a Kip Wells pitch for a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 10.

"It was the battle of two struggling bullpens. We could have helped ourselves a little bit if we would have played better defense," Acta said. "Again, our guys battled out there and put up some runs. We just couldn't come out on top."

Along with the suspended game, the Nationals have also had two rainouts at Nationals Park this season.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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