HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Astros used a big eighth inning to put a close game out of reach and get their first win against the Washington Nationals since 2012 in a matchup of division leaders.
Alex Bregman hit a three-run homer and Jake Marisnick and Max Stassi added solo shots to help the American League West-leading Astros to a 6-1 win on Wednesday night.
The victory snaps a nine-game losing streak to the Nationals, who lead the National League East, and is just Houston’s second win in the last 15 games against Washington.
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”We’ve got guys that have been putting up pretty good at-bats,” manager A.J. Hinch said. ”It was nice to break out and get a couple of runs.”
Houston starter Mike Fiers (8-8) yielded four hits and one run in seven strong innings to get his first win since July 21. Fiers was in command from the start, looking much better than he had in his last four starts when he allowed a combined 24 hits and 20 runs.
The game was tied at 1 with one out in the fifth when Marisnick sent a curveball from Edwin Jackson (4-3) into left-center field for his 15th homer.
In the eighth, Stassi launched a towering shot to the train tracks atop left field to push the lead to 3-1. Marisnick singled and George Springer walked before Bregman’s home run made it 6-1.
Bregman loved that the Astros did all of the damage in the eighth inning with two outs.
”It was huge,” he said. ”Early in the year we did a lot of that. We did a lot of two-out hitting and that’s one of the things that I think this team is really good at. And we’ve got to keep that up if we want to win ball games.”
Jackson allowed six hits and two runs in six innings for the loss.
Andrew Stevenson got things going for Washington when he doubled with one out in the third inning before a single by Howie Kendrick. The Nationals took a 1-0 lead when Stevenson scored on a sacrifice fly by Wilmer Difo.
Jose Altuve got a triple to start Houston’s fourth when Stevenson ran in front of Michael Taylor in center field and just missed making the catch on his fly ball. Houston tied it when Altuve scored on a sacrifice fly by Josh Reddick.
”Jackson, he threw a heck of a game,” manager Dusty Baker said. ”He left 2-1 and really it should have been one run from the home run by Marisnick. He threw the ball well.”
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (neck inflammation) is expected to come off the disabled list Friday to start against the New York Mets. … RHP Ryan Madson is visiting a specialist in Arizona to determine why his sprained right index finger isn’t getting any better.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa (left thumb surgery) will begin a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Fresno on Thursday. He is expected to play seven innings. Manager A.J. Hinch isn’t sure how long he’ll need to play in the minors before coming off the disabled list. … RHP Lance McCullers (back discomfort) will start for Fresno on Friday in his first rehabilitation outing. … C Evan Gattis (concussion) is likely to return to the lineup on Thursday.
Wednesday was Houston’s 23rd game this season with at least three homers and its first since Aug. 4. The victory improved the Astros to 21-2 in those games.
THEY SAID IT
Hinch on the performance of Fiers: ”He had a great game. He was really good from the very beginning with his fastball. I think it was the best fastball I’ve seen out of him in a while. I know he felt really good and he was executing his pitches in and out.”
Nationals: Stephen Strasburg (10-3, 3.25 ERA) is scheduled to start for Washington in the series finale on Thursday. Strasburg allowed four hits and two runs in six innings of a 3-1 loss to the Padres in his last start.
Astros: Dallas Keuchel (11-2, 2.58) will start for Houston on Thursday. He allowed three hits in seven scoreless innings of a 3-1 win over the Athletics his last time out.
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