Berkman's walk-off caps big night

Berkman's walk-off caps big night

HOUSTON -- After making a throwing error in the fifth inning Tuesday night that helped the Nationals score three unearned runs and erase the Astros' four-run lead, first baseman Lance Berkman approached starting pitcher Brett Myers and apologized.

"I'm like, 'Dude, you're going to win this game for us. Just go hit a homer or something like that,' and he sure as heck did [win the game]," Myers said. "I'm pretty happy he was able to do that."

And so were the rest of the Astros, who mobbed Berkman between first and second base after he delivered a two-out, two-run single to left field that sent the Astros to a thrilling 8-7 walk-off win over Washington at Minute Maid Park.

"That's a good come-from-behind win," said Berkman, who went 3-for-5 with five RBIs. "I felt like we shouldn't have even been in that position, because I made a bad throw home and that ended up costing us three runs. To be able to atone for that late in the game, that helps you sleep."

The Astros' furious ninth-inning rally against Nationals closer Matt Capps (0-2) came after Houston closer Matt Lindstrom blew his second save of the season by allowing Washington to score twice in the top of the ninth, costing Myers his fourth win of the season.

Lindstrom was pulled in the ninth, and Wilton Lopez (2-0) got the final two outs of the inning to strand the bases loaded.

"Well, if you keep battling good things will happen," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "The pitchers have been doing everything they could to pick up the hitters almost all year long, and it's nice to see the hitters come through with some big knocks and pick them up a little bit."

Myers was terrific, striking out a season-high 10 batters while allowing four hits and four runs (one earned) in seven innings. He ended all seven innings in which he was on the mound with a strikeout, including the third inning, when he struck out Adam Dunn with the bases loaded.

"It's always good to give your team a chance to win," Myers said. "I just go out there and try to pitch the best I can, and if I make mistakes I try to pitch around those mistakes I do make and try to get outs as quick as possible so we can get the offense in a rhythm. It keeps myself in a rhythm if I keep working as fast as I can."

The game-winning rally began when Pedro Feliz reached on an error and went to second on a sacrifice bunt. Pinch-hitter Cory Sullivan hit a fly ball to left that bounced off the wall and right to left-fielder Josh Willingham, which forced the Astros to hold Feliz at third.

"I was trying to get a fastball in the zone to try and drive or get a hit because it would tie the ballgame," Sullivan said.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Berkman checked his swing on a 1-2 pitch. Home-plate umpire Gary Darling appealed to third-base umpire Bill Hohn, who ejected Roy Oswalt from Monday's game, and he upheld the no-swing call to keep the at-bat alive.

"When it happened, I knew it was close," Berkman said. "It was one of those that maybe I checked it. I talked to Cory Sullivan, who was on third, and he said from that angle it definitely looked like I checked my swing and didn't go around."

Berkman reached out and poked the next pitch into left field, scoring Sullivan from third and Michael Bourn easily from second to win the game.

"Offensively, they've been struggling for a while, but they've got some very good hitters on this team," Capps said. "I know it was a real challenge to get him. I came after him, made a couple of good pitches to him, and I think I got him on the 1-2 fastball away. But they saw it a different way. If I'm perfect, I don't even have to worry about it, I don't even have to face Berkman in that situation. It was a nice piece of hitting on the 2-2 pitch."

Berkman had a two-run double in the first to help the Astros to a 3-0 lead, and Feliz's sacrifice fly in the fourth made it 4-0. Berkman committed his first error of the season in the fifth when he fielded a Dunn grounder with the bases loaded and bounced the throw to the plate. The Nationals wound up scoring four times in the inning to tie the game, but Hunter Pence homered in the fifth and Berkman had an RBI single in the sixth to give the Astros a 6-4 lead.

"Those miscues really hurt," Mills said.

The only thing they wound up hurting in the end was Myers' win-loss record, but it doesn't matter to him as long as he can see him teammates jump for joy like they did Tuesday.

"It's my job to be able to pitch around mistakes, even my mistakes," Myers said. "For me to give up those runs, I fee l like I let [Berkman] down more than he let me down. I just try to pick the guys up when they do make a mistake. You're not going to have a perfectly played game every game."

Myers' performance on the field has spoken for itself, but Berkman said the hurler's bulldog mentality and no-excuses approach have given the Astros a boost in the clubhouse, too.

"I was prepared to not the like the guy just from playing against him, and I've got to tell you he's one of my favorite teammates in terms of his competitiveness," Berkman said. "He has a perfect attitude for what you're looking for in a pitcher. If he loses, 2-1, he's always blaming himself and takes responsibility. He's a competitor and not scared to throw the ball over the plate. I just think he's a great addition to this team."

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