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Astros Hit The Road, Open Four-Game Set With Nationals

(Sports Network) - Both the Astros and Nationals completed their role of spoiler over the weekend with different results.

While Houston will be looking to win for the sixth time in eight games, Washington will try to snap a three-game losing streak this evening in the opener of a four-game set at Nationals Park.

While the Astros were able to take two of three from the National League Central-leading Reds over the weekend, the Nationals were swept in all three games by the Phillies, who lead the NL East.

Washington looked like it was going to avoid a sweep on Sunday after Mike Morse hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning to put his club in front and the Nationals padded their lead to three runs on a homer by Danny Espinosa and an RBI single from Willie Harris.

However, Drew Storen did not retire any of the four batters he faced in the ninth inning, yielding a two-run single to Ryan Howard and a walk-off two-run homer to Jayson Werth in a 7-6 loss that sent Washington to its ninth defeat in 11 games.

"Storen just didn't have it today," said Washington manager Jim Riggleman. "The Phillies are a great ballclub and showed great character."

Houston, meanwhile, took the rubber match of a three-game series with the Reds on Sunday with a 4-3 victory. Humberto Quintero had a two-run single to back seven shutout innings from Brett Myers, who won his fifth straight decision and extended his club-record run of 31 starts of at least six innings pitched to begin a season.

"We put together a good game plan and I pretty much stick with it," Myers said. "I have to locate my pitches obviously. Early on I felt a little uncomfortable, but I got into a rhythm and it ended up working out for us."

Chris Johnson hit a solo homer, doubled and scored twice for Houston, which wrapped up a 10-game homestand with six wins.

The Astros did lose Michael Bourn to a strained right oblique injury and the speedy outfielder is day-to-day, but is not expected to play in this opener.

Bud Norris squares off against the Nationals for the first time in his career and does so having won consecutive starts and six of his last seven decisions.

The 25-year-old has used his winning run to even his record at 8-8 this year with a 4.95 earned run average. Norris has yielded just two earned runs over his last two starts, with one of those coming on three hits and five walks over 7 1/3 innings of a 3-2 triumph over the Brewers on Tuesday.

Norris turned in the long outing despite getting hit on the left shin by a line drive on the first pitch of the game, but is ready to go for this one.

"The adrenaline kept me going," the right-hander said. "I tried to quick pitch a couple of times and keep moving the best I could. It was a little painful, but I stayed out there."

Norris will have to contend tonight with both the arm and bat of Nationals starter Livan Hernandez, who snapped a two-start skid on Tuesday with eight shutout innings of five-hit ball in a 6-0 victory at Atlanta. The 35-year-old also hit his 10th career homer in the game.

"Pitching is more fun [than hitting]," said Hernandez, who had allowed 23 runs over his previous four starts. "We come every day and try to win. What's in the past is in the past."

The right-hander is 10-11 with a 3.66 ERA after winning for just the second time in his last six decisions. Hernandez hasn't faced the Astros yet this year, but is 10-5 with a 4.23 ERA against them lifetime.

The Astros took three of four at home over the Nationals back on May 31-June 3 and have won six of the last eight meetings between the clubs.

Houston is kicking off a 10-game road trip this evening, its last of the season, while Washington begins a 10-game homestand for its final games at Nationals Park in 2010.

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