Astros 8, Nationals 2

Bud Norris kept his cool after allowing two early runs, and the

resurgent right-hander was rewarded by some unlikely power

sources.

Humberto Quintero and Geoff Blum each homered in a seven-run

fifth inning, Norris won for the seventh time in eight decisions

and the Houston Astros beat the mistake-prone Washington Nationals

8-2 Monday night.

Norris (9-8) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings. The

right-hander walked four and struck out six. The Astros are 10-1 in

Norris’ previous 11 starts. He is 7-1 with a 3.52 ERA over that

span.

”Earlier in the year, (Norris) wasn’t able to stop the inning

right there with two runs,” said Astros manager Brad Mills.

”Sometimes they’d put up three and four, and that’s tough to come

back (from). Tonight, he was able to stop it right there and then

put up six more real good solid innings.”

Houston has won six of eight and is 12-6 in September.

Washington lost its fourth straight.

The Nationals committed three errors leading to four unearned

runs in the fifth, when the Astros erased Washington’s 2-1 lead

with their highest-scoring inning of the season.

”It was just a bad inning, a terrible inning,” Washington

manager Jim Riggleman said.

And the Astros happily exploited Washington’s generosity.

”Good teams take advantage of mistakes, and they made a few for

us,” Blum said.

Quintero’s two-run homer, his fourth, and Blum’s three-run

drive, his second, both came off Livan Hernandez (10-12).

”Quintero isn’t necessarily really known as a power threat, but

he really got into one pitch tonight, and Blum came in a big spot

and hit a three-run homer,” Norris said. ”You’re not going to get

a lot of seven-run innings, but when you do you’re not going to

complain.”

The game drew 10,999, the smallest crowd in Washington, D.C.,

since the Montreal Expos relocated before the 2005 season.

”It would be tough for me as a fan to come watch us when we’re

playing bad,” said the Nationals’ Adam Dunn.

Dunn’s two-run double put Washington ahead in the first. Adam

Kennedy drew a one-out walk and Ryan Zimmerman singled before Dunn

pulled a double into the right-field corner.

A safety squeeze by Norris cut the lead in half in the third.

Brian Bogusevic led off with a double for Houston’s first hit, took

third on Quintero’s single to right and raced home when Norris

dropped a bunt down the first-base line.

Houston rallied in the fifth.

Chris Johnson led off with a double, moved to third on what was

scored an infield hit by Bogusevic and scored when first baseman

Dunn’s shovel toss wasn’t cleanly handled by Hernandez. Quintero

followed with a two-run homer and Norris’ fly ball to left was

misplayed by Willie Harris for a two-base error.

Following Jason Bourgeois’ strikeout, Jeff Keppinger singled,

but center fielder Roger Bernadina muffed the pickup, allowing

Norris to score.

”Those are errors we cannot make,” said Harris. ”Those are

stupid errors.”

After Hunter Pence flied out, Blum lofted a three-run homer down

the right-field line.

Hernandez worked five innings, yielding eight runs – four earned

– on eight hits. He walked none and struck out five.

NOTES: Hernandez has thrown a team-high 199 innings this season.

He has nine 200-inning seasons in his 15-year career. … Houston’s

Michael Bourn sat out with a strained right ribcage muscle

sustained Sunday. … LHP Ross Detwiler, who has worked out of the

bullpen since returning from a stint on the disabled list following

right hip surgery, will make his first start of the season Thursday

in the series finale against the Astros. … Astros LHP Tim Byrdak

struck out the only batter he faced – Dunn with the bases loaded –

to end the seventh. Byrdak has not pitched more than 1-3 of an

inning in his last six appearances and 11 of his past 12. He has

been scored on once in 42 outings dating to June 12. … Zimmerman

had two hits, his team-high 46th multiple-hit game of the season.

… Houston’s last seven-run inning came versus Florida on Aug. 12,

2009.