Ryan Zimmerman homers and drives in 4 to lead Washington Nationals past Houston Astros 11-6
HOUSTON (AP)—The Washington Nationals have found a comfortable place to hit, far away from RFK Stadium.
Zimmerman knocked in runs on a triple and a single and Logan had three RBI singles, part of Washington’s 14-hit outburst. The Nationals also had 14 hits at hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park in a 7-0 win over the Astros on Monday night.
“We just didn’t try to do too much, which usually happens in this stadium,” said Washington manager Manny Acta. “We got base hits up the middle and it really helped us.”
Zimmerman’s homer in the fifth barely cleared the left-field wall and might not have been a homer at the Nationals’ home park. Then again, his triple to dead-center would’ve easily cleared the wall at RFK.
“It’s nice to have a fly ball go out once in a while,” he said. “It’s kind of funny. I don’t really consider myself a triples guy. That was, like, the second or third ball where I wish I would’ve been at home when I hit it.”
The Nationals took advantage of a rare off night at Minute Maid for Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez, who hadn’t lost there in six starts. The left-hander came in with a 1.65 ERA in 12 home starts, but allowed seven runs and six hits with four walks in 5 1-3 innings.
“I think I didn’t use my changeup, that’s what happened to me,” Rodriguez said. “I felt good and my fastball was good. I guess they figured me out.”
The Nationals beat Houston for the seventh time in the last eight meetings and has won consecutive road games for the first time since July 26-27. They also sneaked past Florida and out of last place in the NL East standings—a modest, but significant achievement for the young franchise.
“A lot of people didn’t think we were going to win this many games the whole year,” Zimmerman said. “If we can go on a little run, anything can happen. Finishing .500—that would be a huge accomplishment for us.”
Craig Biggio homered and drove in four runs for the Astros, who’ve lost three in a row and five of their last seven.
Rookie Joel Hanrahan (3-1) allowed three runs and seven hits with three walks in five innings to earn the win for the Nationals in his fifth career start.
Biggio drove Hanrahan’s first pitch into the left-field porch for his 10th homer of the season. It was Biggio’s 53rd career leadoff homer, an NL record. But the Astros stranded 14 runners in the game.
“We didn’t put the ball in play a couple times tonight with men in base,” manager Phil Garner said, “and it comes back to bite you.”
Rodriguez breezed through the first three innings, striking out four and giving up only Dmitri Young’s single leading off the second inning.
Logan, hitting a team-best .320 since the All-Star break, led off the fourth with a double past third baseman Mike Lamb. Zimmerman followed with a triple over Hunter Pence’s head in deep center. Pence was making his first start since July 22, when he broke his right wrist making a slide.
Rodriguez (7-12) hadn’t allowed more than one earned run at home since May 30.
Mark Loretta walked to lead off the Astros’ fourth and advanced on Brad Ausmus’ ground out. One out later, Biggio blooped an RBI single to center and went to second on Logan’s late throw to the plate. Pence, second among NL rookies with a .330 average, then singled to right to give the Astros a 3-2 lead.
Brian Schneider led off the fifth with a double to left center and scored on Logan’s single to tie the game again. Zimmerman then hit a towering homer into the left-field seats, his 19th, to put Washington up 5-3.
Rodriguez walked Ronnie Belliard and Schneider in the sixth and was relieved by left-hander Trever Miller. Tony Batista, pinch-hitting for Hanrahan, and Logan then lined RBI singles to center to make it 7-3.
Dave Borkowski relieved Miller and Zimmerman singled to center, scoring Lopez.
Belliard had an RBI double and Logan had another run-scoring single during Washington’s three-run seventh.
The Nationals reached a double-digit run total for just the fifth time this season. … Biggio has 3,036 career hits. … Washington’s opponents have scored first in 14 of the Nationals’ last 18 games. … The Astros had won nine of the previous 10 games in which Biggio hit a leadoff home run.
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