Pena looks to continue his hot hitting with his new team on Tuesday night as the Nationals continue a four-game road series against the Houston Astros.
Pena homered for the second straight game, and Tim Redding threw seven strong innings against his former team as Washington ended a four-game losing streak with a 7-0 victory on Monday night.
“You see both ends of the spectrum tonight,” Redding said. “(Pena) goes off and has been hitting the cover off the ball. He got me going against my old organization. Sometimes it just takes a couple of times to stick somewhere.”
Dmitri Young hit a three-run homer and Austin Kearns and Ronnie Belliard added three hits apiece for the Nationals (56-69), who scored more than four runs for only the second time in 12 games. The win moved Washington out of sole possession of last place in the NL East, a position they occupied since April 22.
Pena, acquired from Boston on Friday for a player to be named, finished with three hits and two RBIs Monday. He’s 5-for-11 with two home runs and three RBIs since joining Washington after he had one homer and five RBIs in his previous 49 at-bats with the Red Sox.
After he was traded, Pena said, “I just need the opportunity to play every day. I can’t tell you I’ll do this, this, this. That’s not me. … But if I can’t play every day, I can’t put up numbers”
The Astros (56-69) were shut out for the fifth time this season, scoring three runs or fewer for the sixth consecutive game. They have lost six of their last seven games against the Nationals.
Houston’s struggling offense could get a boost either Tuesday or Wednesday with the return of standout rookie Hunter Pence, who has been sidelined since July 23 with a sprained right wrist. Pence, who is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock, was batting .330 with 12 homers and 45 RBIs in 73 games before he was injured.
Effective in his first four major league starts, Joel Hanrahan (2-1, 2.95 ERA) gets the call for Washington. The rookie right-hander allowed two runs and four hits over five innings Thursday in a 4-2 loss to Philadelphia. Although he struck out a season-high eight—including Phillies slugger Ryan Howard three times—Hanrahan also walked four and threw 50 balls among his 101 pitches.
“With our bullpen, the way they’ve been used, it’s not what we’re looking for,” Hanrahan said. “I’ve just got to get quicker outs and stop walking people.”
Wandy Rodriguez (7-11, 4.31) gets another chance to extend his home dominance for Houston. The left-hander has been outstanding in 12 starts this season at Minute Maid Park, going 6-2 with a 1.65 ERA. On the road, however, he is 1-9 with a 7.80 ERA in 12 starts.
Rodriguez has won four consecutive decisions at home, allowing one run or less in six consecutive starts there. He has not surrendered a home run in five straight home starts, covering 38 innings.
Rodriguez gave up four runs - two earned - and four hits in five innings Thursday in a 6-2 road loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is 2-0 with a 3.96 ERA in four starts against the Nationals.