Nationals

Schaub rallies Texans past Jaguars, 43-37

Schaub rallies Texans past Jaguars, 43-37

HOUSTON (AP) For weeks Andre Johnson has been saying he was finally feeling like himself again after last year's injury plagued season.

He hopes his career-best 273-yard performance, including a 48-yard game-winning touchdown reception, in Houston's 43-37 overtime win over Jacksonville on Sunday proves his point.

``Maybe you guys will believe me after that,'' Johnson said with a laugh.

Johnson's 273 yards receiving on a career-high 14 receptions were the most in the NFL since 2000.

Matt Schaub threw for 527 yards and career-high five scores as the Texans rallied from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit for the victory.

Schaub said he didn't have to say anything to the team before the game-winning drive.

``We knew what we had to get done,'' the quarterback said.

Schaub's yards passing are tied for the second most in NFL history. Warren Moon also threw for 527 yards for the Houston Oilers in December 1990 against Kansas City. Norm Van Brocklin holds the record with 554 for the Rams in 1951.

``Tremendous play by our quarterback, and probably as good a day as I've ever seen by a wide receiver,'' Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. ``As a matter of fact, I know it is.''

Chad Henne threw for 354 yards and a career-high four touchdowns filling in for Blaine Gabbert after he bruised his right elbow on a hit on Jacksonville's first series.

Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey thought Henne did a nice job, but wouldn't say who will start for his team next week.

``After I evaluate the tape, a decision will be made,'' he said.

Henne had some big plays to rookie receiver Justin Blackmon, who had a season-high seven catches for 236 yards.

``He has gotten better and better and better every week, and today was good for him and good for our team to see that,'' Mularkey said of Blackmon, a first-round pick. ``I'm sure it will carry over.''

Houston had a shot to win it earlier in overtime, but Schaub was intercepted by Derek Cox. But they got another chance after Jacksonville's offense stalled to set up Johnson's game-winner.

``Bad things are going to happen,'' Johnson said of Schaub's interception in overtime. ``But you have to move on from it.''

The teams exchanged field goals in overtime to tie it at 37-all.

Houston could have won it in regulation, but Shayne Graham's field goal attempt from 47 yards was wide left. It would have been from 42, but the Texans had a false start when they first lined up to kick it.

Houston used a 1-yard touchdown reception by Garrett Graham to get within 34-27 with about six minutes remaining.

Blackmon was open, but couldn't handle the throw on third down and the Jaguars had to punt after that, giving the Texans a chance to tie it.

The Texans capped a 90-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown reception by Graham to tie it at 34-all with about 1 1/2 minutes left.

Keshawn Martin was chased down from behind by the punter on a 71-yard return early in the fourth quarter with Houston trailing by a touchdown. But the Texans came up empty when Schaub was intercepted by Paul Posluszny two plays later.

The Jaguars were facing third-and-21 on the ensuing drive when Henne hit Blackmon over the middle, and he shed a pair of defenders on the way to an 81-yard touchdown to make it 34-20.

Jacksonville went up 17-14 early in the third on a 40-yard field goal by Josh Scobee.

Arian Foster fumbled three plays later and the Jaguars recovered on the Houston 11. Jacksonville took advantage of the turnover when a wide-open Marcedes Lewis grabbed a 1-yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 27-17 later in the third.

Houston settled for a 27-yard field goal when the offense stalled inside the red zone to cut the lead to 27-20 near the end of the third quarter.

Houston took an early 7-0 lead when Schaub connected with rookie Martin on a 9-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.

Gabbert was injured when he was hit by Danieal Manning and fumbled on Jacksonville's first drive.

Henne took over and the Jaguars evened it up when Lewis grabbed a 13-yard reception from him later in the first.

Cecil Shorts got in front of the defense on a 67-yard catch and run to give Jacksonville a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.

The Texans answered with a 1-yard touchdown reception by tight end James Casey to tie it again.

The teams exchanged field goals late in the second quarter to leave tied at 17-all at halftime.

NOTES: Posluszny received four stitches on his forehead after being injured in overtime. ... RB Jalen Parmele had 80 yards rushing. .... Gabbert was 2 of 2 for 24 yards before leaving the game. ... Graham's two touchdowns were a career-high.

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Nationals win despite having to turn to little-known pitcher for pivotal start

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Nationals win despite having to turn to little-known pitcher for pivotal start

WASHINGTON -- If any bump was coming from a return home or Mike Rizzo’s public pregame words or simply being out of New York, it was not apparent Friday.

Three errors committed in the first four innings. The first reliever into the game, Joe Ross, allowed three earned runs before recording a second out. Starter Kyle McGowin barely made it through the fourth inning of an eventual and desperately needed 12-10 win.

The rally kept the Nationals from creeping toward of new level of dubiousness in this muck-filled season. They pushed 2 ½ games in front of the Marlins for the National League’s worst record. Juan Soto hit a three-run homer in the eighth. Matt Adams followed with a solo homer. Sean Doolittle had trouble, but closed the game. Those efforts kept this from being another story about the bullpen (five more runs allowed Friday).

So, here’s a different question to ponder (there are a million or none, depending on point of view) after Friday night: How did the Nationals end up with 27-year-old McGowin starting a surprisingly pivotal game?

The nuts-and-bolts version is because of injuries. Both Anibal Sanchez -- who threw a simulation game Friday -- and Jeremy Hellickson are on the injured list. The deeper answer comes from looking at the recent erosion of pitchers in Washington’s minor-league system.

McGowin made his second career start Friday because there is no one else. No hot minor-league prospect, no early-round pick who has been up and down and received another shot, no veteran stashed in the minor leagues for such situations.

Looming behind all of this is the 2016 trade of three pitching prospects to acquire Adam Eaton. Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning were all sent to Chicago for Eaton’s advanced-stats and cost-friendly contract. The departure of three starting pitchers in one shot reverberated Friday when the Nationals were forced to use McGowin in a spot start as the seventh starter of the season.

This is more a volume than quality issue. Neither Lopez or Giolito were effective in limited chances at the major-league level with Washington before being traded. Once in Chicago, Giolito became arguably the worst pitcher in baseball in 2018. No one allowed more earned runs or walks that season. Lopez had a quality season, finishing with 3.1 WAR.

The two have reversed outcomes in 2019. Giolito has rediscovered his velocity. After throwing 100 mph in the 2015 Futures Game, his velocity caved. Giolito was down to 92-93 mph with the Nationals and, initially, Chicago. Thursday, he hit 97 mph in the ninth inning of a shutout against Houston. The outing drove his ERA down to 2.77.

Lopez is struggling. His 5.14 ERA is venturing toward Giolito’s status of a year ago. His walk total -- always the concern -- is up, as are his homers allowed.

But what Giolito and Lopez have, at age 24 and 25, respectively, is potential. Giolito, who often fussed with his mechanics in Washington, has discovered a delivery to expedite his fastball and an approach to boost the effectiveness of his changeup. Lopez’s 2018 showed he can be a solid back-end rotation member. They were expected to follow behind Erick Fedde and Joe Ross in establishing a future rotation. But, those two are in Chicago, Ross is in the bullpen, where he gave up three runs Friday, and Fedde just returned to the rotation after being moved to the bullpen.

So, it was McGowin on the mound Friday. Four innings, six hits, five runs, one walk, two strikeouts, two home runs allowed. Why? No better choice is available.

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Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and Nationals grant boys wish to be a player for a day

Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and Nationals grant boys wish to be a player for a day

The Nationals welcomed 10-year-old cancer patient Parker Staples as the newest addition to their team on Friday, in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic Foundation.

While battling lymphoma, Staples learned he would receive a wish and didn’t hesitate about what he wanted to choose. After being sidelined for two years during treatment, Parker couldn’t wait to celebrate his remission by becoming part of his favorite baseball team. 

Staples was introduced to his new teammates and got signed autographs from Matt Adams, Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, and Yan Gomes. He also got to spend time hitting and playing catch with his new teammates, as well as being interviewed as the newest member of the team. It gets even better than that, Staples threw the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park leading up to the Marlins-Nationals game Staples 

"My favorite moment was throwing the first pitch. It was really cool," Staples said.

"Probably the biggest day of my life."

The Nationals are hosted the Miami Marlins in the series opener Friday.

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