The Nats needed this one.
With the bats cooled for most of the series in San Diego, the Nats’ offense erupted in Houston with 14 hits in a 14-4 cruise over the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
The highlight of the day was the 7th inning where the Nats sent 12 men to the plate and exploded for a season-high 9 runs.
Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman each had a pair of hits and 4 RBI. Zimmerman with a 3-run homer in the 7th frame, his third homer in two games.
Carlos Maldonado slammed his first home run in a Nationals uniform, a 3-run shot in the 7th. The left field round tripper was also his first hit with Washington.
Cristian Guzman had three base knocks and three runs scored while leading off, while Nyjer Morgan had three hits and scored four times.
Dunn remained hot with the bat, smacking a 3-run double off of Astros starter Roy Oswalt in the 3rd , and Luis Atilano dodged some early trouble to help the Nats snap a two-game skid and get back to the .500 mark overall (26-26).
Atilano went 6 and 2/3rd innings for his 5th win of the season (5-1), scattering six hits with only two walks and one strikeout, allowing four runs but only three of them earned.
Nationals manager Jim Riggleman placed Guzman in the lead off spot to start the game and it paid off in his 1st at bat against Roy Oswalt (3-7). Guzman smacked a double to the wall and scored a batter later on a Ryan Zimmerman sacrifice fly to right field.
The Astros tied it in the bottom of the 1st with 2 hits off of Luis Atilano. Carlos Lee with an infield single that plated Michael Bourn evened the game at 1.
Dunn smacked a 3-run double on 3-2 count with 1 out in the top of the 3rd. After 1 out, Cristian Guzman and Nyjer Morgan had back-to-back singles. Ryan Zimmerman walked. Then Dunn swatted a 3-run double off the right center field wall to give the Nats a 4-1 advantage.
A frustrating season boiled over for Roy Oswalt during the next at bat.
Oswalt got thrown out for arguing with the home plate umpire Bill Hohn during Josh Willingham’s at bat. It appeared that Oswalt pointed his glove at Hohn during the argument and that was enough to send him to the showers early and turned into a huge break for the Nats.
The Nats appeared to have the Astros reeling in that third after Oswalt was ejected. But after Gustavo Chacin completed the walk to Josh Willingham, he was able to induce Willie Harris and Ian Desmond to swing at his first pitch and a pair of quick fly outs.
Chacin then got the home crowd to cheer with his first major league hit, a solo homer, cut the Nats lead to 4-2 after three innings.
In the 5th inning, Nyjer Morgan led off the inning by sticking his bat out and poking the ball over the infield for a base hit. After a walk to Ryan Zimmerman, a fly out and a stolen base, came home on a Josh Willingham single to give the Nats a 5-2 cushion.
Atilano got through the 5th inning with only 69 total pitches. He retired 9 of the next 11 batters he faced following Chacin’s homer.
In the 7th inning, the Nats continued to roll with Dunn getting his 4th RBI with another key base hit that scored Morgan. Ian Desmond then swatted a 2-run single that scored Zimmermann and Dunn to make it 8-2 Nats.
Later in the same inning, Maldonado and Zimmerman each had 3-run homers in the 9-run outburst. It was the most runs in an inning since May 13th in Denver when the Nats scored 7 in one frame against the Rockies.
The Astros went through six pitchers during the game after Oswalt lasted just seven outs.