Nationals rally past Astros

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HOUSTON – Jose Vidro hit a three-run homer and drove in five runs and Alfonso Soriano had four RBIs to help the Washington Nationals rally for a 12-8 victory over the Houston Astros.

Houston led 6-3 before the Nationals scored six runs in the seventh inning. Soriano hit a two-out double off Chad Qualls to drive in Marlon Byrd and Nick Johnson and give Washington an 8-6 lead. Ryan Zimmerman, who was 0-for-9 with seven strikeouts in his previous two games, drove in Soriano with a base hit.

Qualls (0-1) recorded just one out and allowed four hits and four runs before being replaced by Russ Springer.

Soriano also hit a two-run homer off Astros starter Roy Oswalt, who left with one out in the seventh. Oswalt allowed seven hits, five runs and struck out three, after pitching a shutout in his first start this season.

Livan Hernandez (1-1) improved to 5-1 at Minute Maid Park after allowing 12 hits and six runs in six innings for the Nationals.

Houston jumped out to an early lead. Lance Berkman hit a two-run homer for the third straight game, driving in Craig Biggio in Houston’s five-run first. Brad Ausmus had a two-run single and Oswalt also drove in a run with base hit.

Biggio became the 43rd player and the first Astro to record 2,800 career hits with his single in the first. He has hits in four of Houston’s first five games.

Berkman also had two-run shots in Friday’s 6-1 win over Washington and Wednesday’s 6-5 victory against Florida. He also had an RBI single in the sixth.

The Astros added a run on Jason Lane’s homer in the seventh. Lane was 0-for-12 entering the game.

Oswalt’s streak of 18 straight scoreless innings against the Nationals franchise was broken on Soriano’s home run in the second. He hadn’t given up a run to the franchise since an RBI triple by Vidro in April 2002.

Vidro’s single to right field in the third got past Berkman and scored Byrd from second.

Preston Wilson also homered for the third consecutive game for Houston.

Notes: Washington manager Frank Robinson likes what he’s seen from Soriano in left field. The four-time All-Star second baseman reluctantly switched to left field at Robinson’s request after he was traded to Washington from Texas. Robinson said he’s given Soriano few pointers, letting Soriano learn the position at his own pace. “He’s done OK, which I thought he would do,” Robinson said, “but he really hasn’t been tested yet.” … Jose Guillen did not start the game after being hit in the forearm by a pitch from Brandon Backe on Friday, but entered the game in the seventh. He had two hits and scored two runs. … Biggio extended his major league record for being hit by pitches to 274 when he was plunked on the arm by Hernandez in the sixth. Robinson, apparently upset that Biggio made no attempt to avoid the pitch, jawed with the umpire for a couple of minutes to loud boos from the crowd before returning to the dugout.

AP-ES-04-08-06 2216EDT

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