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Houston at Washington

W: W. Rodriguez (4-3) L: C. Balester (1-2)
S: J. Valverde (24)
HR: HOU - H. Pence (12)   WAS - W. Harris (5)

Astros 6, Nationals 4

CBSSports.com wire reports

WASHINGTON -- A night after getting shut out, the Houston Astros got their offense going.

Hunter Pence homered and drove in three runs to help the Astros beat the Washington Nationals 6-4 on Saturday night.

"Nothing was running for us yesterday, and today, it seemed to happen," Pence said. "It's baseball. The ball seemed to bounce in different ways. We had a lot of energy, we played hard and everyone chipped in."

Lance Berkman added two RBI and Carlos Lee had three of the Astros' 13 hits. Houston has won just three of its last 11 games.

"Everything looks great when you score six runs and win the ballgame," Berkman added. "When you get shut out 10-0, it doesn't look the same. Certainly, winning covers a multitude of evils and makes you look good."

Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (4-3), who had only one victory in his previous six starts, allowed four runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings to earn the win. He walked one and struck out one. Jose Valverde worked the ninth for his 24th save in 29 tries.

"Wandy ... limited the damage," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. "He didn't give them any crooked numbers. He threw some double play balls. That's what you have to do to prevent teams from putting crooked numbers up on you."

Washington rookie Collin Balester (1-2) gave up six runs -- four earned -- and 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings.

"You learn from failure and I'm starting to learn a lot more. The next start's going to be a lot better." Balester said.

Willie Harris homered for Washington, which has lost nine of 12 games. The Nationals hit into four double plays, matching a season high.

Pence's 12th homer of the season erased a 2-1 deficit in the fourth. The Astros sent nine men to the plate in fifth, chasing Balester, and a throwing error by third baseman Ronnie Belliard opened the floodgates.

"We had our chances. We just played poor defense," Washington manager Manny Acta said. "I think with the offense we have we can't afford to be giving 30 outs to the opposition."

Leadoff hitter Darin Erstad reached on Belliard's wild throw and went to third on Kaz Matsui's double to right. Berkman made it 5-2 with a double to the bullpen wall in left-center. Lee singled and, two outs later, Pence capped the uprising with an RBI single to left.

Houston strung together three consecutive singles with one out in the first, taking a 1-0 lead on Lee's RBI hit to left.

A sacrifice fly by Cristian Guzman tied the game in the bottom of the inning and Belliard led off the second with a double, then scored on Jesus Flores' single to center.

Rodriguez tired in the sixth, when he could retire only one batter and left after loading the bases.

Harris' fifth homer, a leadoff shot to right-center off a 1-2 Rodriguez pitch, made it 6-3. Paul Lo Duca singled, Guzman drew a one out walk and Belliard singled before Chris Sampson relieved. Sampson plunked Flores on the left arm with his first pitch, forcing in a run, then got Wily Mo Pena to bounce into an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play.

"That was the at-bat that probably disinflated us. It took all the air out of us right there," Acta said. "(Pena) chased a pitch low and out of the zone in that situation and made their night, basically. ... Right now, he's just lost at the plate."


Houston is 10-1 when Pence drives in two or more runs. ... Washington 3B Ryan Zimmerman, on the 15-day disabled list with a turn muscle in his left shoulder, will begin a rehabilitation assignment with Single-A Potomac in Salem, Va., on Monday. If all goes well, Zimmerman will move on to Triple-A Columbus and play Thursday through Sunday. ... Balester got his first major league hit, a third-inning single. ... Houston signed its first-round draft pick, C Jason Castro from Stanford. He will begin his professional career at Single-A Tri-City. ... Nationals 1B Dmitri Young missed the game with back tightness.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Players of the Game

H. Pence
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1

W. Harris
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1

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Houston Astros
Darin Erstad, CF-LF5110001 .295
Kazuo Matsui, 2B4220101 .280
Lance Berkman, 1B5122002 .347
Carlos Lee, LF5031000 .299
    Michael Bourn, CF0000000 .218
Miguel Tejada, SS5110015 .275
Geoff Blum, 3B5000016 .213
    Jose Valverde, P0000000 .000
Hunter Pence, RF3123100 .263
Brad Ausmus, C4010022 .222
Wandy Rodriguez, P3010023 .080
    Chris Sampson, P0000000 .150
   a- David Newhan, PH1000000 .261
    Geoff Geary, P0000000 .000
    Ty Wigginton, 3B0000000 .276
a-popped out for Sampson in the 8th
2B - Kazuo Matsui (17, Balester), Lance Berkman (30, Balester)
HR - Hunter Pence (12, Balester)
RBI - Lance Berkman 2 (72), Carlos Lee (73), Hunter Pence 3 (46)
2-OUT RBI - Hunter Pence (14)
Team LOB - 9
DP - Rodriguez-Tejada-Berkman, Matsui-Tejada-Berkman, Sampson-Ausmus-Berkman, Tejada-Matsui-Berkman
Houston Astros
Wandy Rodriguez (W,4-3) 5.1844111 3.48
Chris Sampson (H,5) 1.2000010 4.62
Geoff Geary (H,5) 1100010 2.35
Jose Valverde (S,24) 1000000 3.80
HBP - Flores (by Chris Sampson)
Pitches-Strikes - Wandy Rodriguez 80-53, Chris Sampson 10-10, Geoff Geary 11-7, Jose Valverde 15-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Wandy Rodriguez 7-6, Chris Sampson 1-2, Geoff Geary 1-0, Jose Valverde 2-1
Batters Faced - Wandy Rodriguez 23, Chris Sampson 5, Geoff Geary 3, Jose Valverde 3
Washington Nationals
Willie Harris, CF4221001 .224
Paul Lo Duca, 1B4120001 .226
Cristian Guzman, SS3001011 .315
Austin Kearns, RF3000111 .204
Ronnie Belliard, 3B4120000 .233
Jesus Flores, C3012000 .270
Wily Mo Pena, LF4000002 .205
Felipe Lopez, 2B3010011 .233
Collin Balester, P1010000 .500
    Jesus Colome, P0000000 .000
   a- Ryan Langerhans, PH1000001 .194
    Saul Rivera, P0000000 .000
   b- Kory Casto, PH1000000 .210
    Joel Hanrahan, P0000000 .000
a-grounded out for Colome in the 5th
b-lined out for Rivera in the 7th
2B - Willie Harris (4, Rodriguez), Ronnie Belliard (12, Rodriguez), Felipe Lopez (17, Rodriguez)
HR - Willie Harris (5, Rodriguez)
SF - Cristian Guzman (2)
RBI - Willie Harris (13), Cristian Guzman (30), Jesus Flores 2 (37)
Team LOB - 3
DP - Guzman-Lo Duca
E - Ronnie Belliard (5, Throwing), Cristian Guzman (10, Throwing)
Washington Nationals
Collin Balester (L,1-2) 4.21164031 5.87
Jesus Colome 0.1000010 5.53
Saul Rivera 2200110 3.40
Joel Hanrahan 2000110 4.01
Pitches-Strikes - Collin Balester 91-60, Jesus Colome 4-3, Saul Rivera 36-21, Joel Hanrahan 20-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Collin Balester 5-7, Saul Rivera 3-1, Joel Hanrahan 2-3
Batters Faced - Collin Balester 26, Jesus Colome 1, Saul Rivera 8, Joel Hanrahan 7
Game Information
Attendance - 30682
Game Time - 2:37
Temperature - 87
Umpires - Home - Kevin Causey, First Base - Sam Holbrook, Second Base - Scott Barry, Third Base - Charlie Reliford