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Happ, Astros Continue Quest For Record-Breaking Season Tonight Against Nationals

(Sports Network) – Righty Jordan Zimmermann aims to continue a recently effective stretch tonight, when the Washington Nationals continue a three-game series with the Houston Astros with game two at Minute Maid Park.

The 25-year-old Wisconsin native has allowed more than two earned runs just once in his last 10 starts while trimming his season earned run average to 2.66 after 115 innings.

He tossed 6 1/3 innings of scoreless, four-hit ball in his most recent outing on July 10 against Colorado, walking none and striking out six in a 2-0 victory.

In the nine previous outings, he allowed zero earned runs three times, one earned run twice and two earned runs on three occasions.

He’s 3-3 in 10 road starts in 2011 and lost his lone career start against the Astros after allowing four runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings.

For Houston, lefty J.A. Happ tries again to end a winless drought that has now reached 10 starts.

A 12-game winner in 2009, Happ was 3-4 this season after a 7-3 defeat of the New York Mets on May 14. He’s 0-7 in the 10 outings since, including a 5-0 loss at Florida on July 7.

The Astros have lost each of the 10 games, scoring three runs or less seven times.

He is 2-5 in 10 home starts in 2011 and 3-0 in nine career meetings with the Nationals, including three starts. In 23 2/3 innings, he’s allowed 14 hits and three earned runs, walking 15 batters and striking out 20.

On Monday, Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo home run and his RBI single in the ninth inning sent Washington to a 5-2 win.

Laynce Nix bounced a ball over the head of first baseman Carlos Lee, resulting in two more ninth inning runs, as the Nationals rebounded from a 9-8 walk-off loss to the Braves on Sunday.

Zimmerman’s hit off Jordan Lyles prevented the rookie from possibly getting his first major league victory. Lyles (0-5) gave up five hits and was charged with four runs before leaving the game with one out in the ninth inning.

The Astros, who fell to 2-12 this month and a major league-worst 31-65, got an RBI apiece from Lee and Carlos Corporan.

Jason Marquis (8-4) snapped a five-start winless stretch by fanning nine batters over eight innings.

Drew Storen fanned three batters in the bottom of the ninth to get his 25th save.

The Nationals and Astros split eight meetings last year, but Houston did win three of four at home.

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