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Astros Seek Second Straight Win Against Nationals

(Sports Network) - Aiming to match a career high in wins for a third straight season, John Lannan will try to snap the Washington Nationals' four-game losing streak -- both overall and versus the Houston Astros -- this evening in the second meeting of a four-game series at Nationals Park.

Lannan, who turns 26 on Monday, is 6-2 with a 3.02 earned run average over his last eight starts and is coming off a victory in Atlanta on Wednesday in which he gave up just two runs over six innings.

The left-hander improved to 8-7 with a 4.61 ERA this year and reached eight wins for a third consecutive season.

Lannan lost to the Astros on June 2, yielding five runs -- two earned -- over 6 1/3 innings in falling to 3-2 with a 4.45 ERA in five career starts against them.

He'll look to snap a pair of skids for the Nationals after they lost, 8-2, in last night's series opener.

Washington starter Livan Hernandez was roughed up for eight runs -- four earned -- on eight hits over five innings. Seven of those runs came in the fifth inning for Houston, a frame that saw Geoff Blum connect on a three-run homer and Humberto Quintero a two-run shot.

That was enough for Bud Norris, who gave up two runs -- both in the first inning -- over 6 2/3 frames to pick up his third straight win and Houston's sixth in its last eight games.

"Getting settled in the first inning is always going to be a big key for a lot of guys, and for me it's another key," Norris said.

Adam Dunn supplied Washington's offense with a two-run double, but the club lost for the 10th time in 12 games.

"I think everyone will go home and kind of look at this -- take the positives out of this," Dunn said. "We have a lot of young guys getting really valuable experience. I thought we'd be better this year. I think the next few years to come is when you'll start really seeing the change."

The Nats will take their swings tonight against Astros starter J.A. Happ, who is 5-2 with a 3.63 ERA in 10 starts since coming over from a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Happ last faced the Nationals on April 15 while with Philadelphia, and despite allowing three hits and six walks over 5 1/3 innings, was touched for just one unearned run in a no-decision. He is 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA in eight career meetings with Washington, including two starts.

Happ, a 27-year-old lefty, has won his last three decisions overall, but hasn't factored into the outcome of his last two outings, both losses for Houston. He lasted just 4 1/3 innings versus Milwaukee on Wednesday, getting charged with five runs in his team's 8-6 setback.

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

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