Difo’s defense and bat early highlights (Astros win 6-1)

HOUSTON - The Nationals got on the board first in the third inning against Astros starter Mike Fiers.

With one out, Andrew Stevenson doubled to right-center field. The hit came a half inning after he was unable to come up with a hot shot to right field that turned into a Marwin Gonzalez double. But starter Edwin Jackson didn’t allow the Astros to score thanks to a lineout to left field by Carlos Beltr├ín that ended the threat.

Difo-Swings-Gray-Sidebar.jpgBack to the third-inning Nats rally: Howie Kendrick followed with a bloop single to center field put runners on the corners. Wilmer Difo hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Stevenson.

Difo also was involved in the first four Astros outs, with one putout and three assists.

Jackson has kept Houston off the board through three frames: no runs on just one hit.

After three innings, the Nats lead the Astros 1-0.

Update: Miscommunication and a bit of confusion in the outfield helped the Astros tie the game in the bottom of the fourth.

Jose Altuve’s drive appeared to be catchable by Michael A. Taylor in right-center field. Stevenson came over and attempted to make the play but was unable to make the catch. The ball then rolled away from Stevenson to the center field area. Altuve and his speed ended up at third base with a triple. Josh Reddick followed with a long fly ball sacrifice fly to center to score Altuve.

After four innings, the Nats and the Astros are tied at 1-1.

Update II: Jake Marisnick launched a 393-foot home run over th left-center field wall up to the tracks where the one-way train rests. His 15th homer of the season gave the Astros a 2-1 lead after five innings.

Update III: Tremendous gut check moment for Jackson in sixth. Reddick led off with a double. Carlos Beltran was intentionally walked. Max Stassi walked to load the bases. On a full count to Marisnick, Jackson got him to pop up to the left of home plate caught by Matt Wieters.

Matt Albers was warming in ‘pen.

After six innings, the Astros lead the Nats 2-1.

Update IV: Jackson went six innings, allowing only two runs on six hits with three walks (one intentional), one strikeout and one home run. He fired 95 pitches, 58 for strikes.

Update V: Matt Grace worked into his second inning in the eighth and got to two outs before allowing a 442-foot solo shot by Stassi to make it 3-1 Astros. Shawn Kelley came on and allowed a single, a walk and then a three-run homer to Alex Bregman.

Francisco Liriano pitched the ninth, allowing a Murphy single but then getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Adam Lind grounded out to second base to end the game.

Final score: Astros 6, Nats 1.

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