The Washington Times - March 9, 2009, 08:09PM

Not sure why, but I really felt like using some cheesy word like “barnburner” or “doozy” right there to describe this game, and barnburner was out because we’re outside. Anyway, the Nats lead the Astros 6-4 after three innings in a game that’s featured some offensive performances that have to be encouraging for Washington — and an outing from Collin Balester that the Nationals probably aren’t thirlled about.

Leading the way so far is Austin Kearns, who is in his second game back from a blister on his left hand. Kearns has been working with hitting coach Rick Eckstein on some subtle changes to his hitting stance, and so far, they’re paying off. He launched a three-run homer off Felipe Paulino in the first inning. Ryan Zimmerman and Cristian Guzman are also 2-for-2, and Nick Johnson has drawn two walks, including one with the bases loaded in the first inning.


Now for Balester. He gave up a homer to Hunter Pence in the first, and ended up allowing four runs on four hits with a walk in three innings. He threw 50 pitches, 30 of which were strikes, so his control wasn’t bad. But he left a lot of pitches up, and got hit around a little bit.

Ross Detwiler is in there for the Nats now.