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WSH@HOU: Barmes' fifth homer puts Astros ahead early

HOUSTON -- After the Astros traded Jeff Keppinger to the Giants on Tuesday afternoon, it was Michael Bourn and Houston's other middle infielder, shortstop Clint Barmes, earning all the attention on Tuesday night.

Barmes smashed a two-run homer in the second inning and a go-ahead RBI single as part of a four-run fourth that was capped by Bourn's two-run double, giving J.A. Happ his first win since May 14 with a 7-6 victory against the Nationals.

"To see Happ throw the way he did is huge for us, and obviously for him as well, because he's got way too much talent," Barmes said. "I've seen him in the past. The stuff that he has done ... He's going to be a huge asset to this team."

Happ said that his teammates told him throughout the game that they were going to do everything they could to help him.

"They definitely did that," Happ said. "It was fun to be a part of."

Bourn and Barmes combined to knock in six of the Astros' seven runs, and five Astros recorded multi-hit games. Bourn finished 3-for-5, with two doubles.

"Bourny, after striking out the first two at-bats, came back and had a couple huge hits for us," said manager Brad Mills. "Barmy [hit] a home run, and he had three RBIs as well. That's big."

Happ snapped a career-long seven-game losing streak despite allowing exactly five runs for the fourth straight start.

"It's good to see [Happ] get a win and battle through it," Mills said. "I know he had a couple of home runs, but it was nice to see him come through and not be afraid to pitch to contact."

The southpaw allowed a hit in each inning without any damage until Michael Morse hit a two-run homer in the third inning. Morse added two doubles and finished 3-for-3.

Happ loaded the bases in the first inning before forcing a flyout from Wilson Ramos.

"It could have started out tough, definitely," Happ said. "It was nice to get out of there with a zero on the board."

Houston's breakout fourth inning began with a single by Carlos Lee, who moved to third base on a double by Chris Johnson. Lee scored on Barmes' single, and Johnson scored on a safety squeeze by Humberto Quintero, who caught the Nationals' defense by surprise and beat the throw to first base.

Quintero, who finished 2-for-4, has recorded an RBI in three straight games for the first time in his career.

Happ's sacrifice bunt put two runners in scoring position for Bourn, who drilled a two-bagger into the left-field corner.

Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, who was ranked fifth in the National League with a 2.66 ERA entering the game, allowed a season-high six runs on seven hits in five innings.

"We just scrapped," Bourn said, "and we were able to get some good solid hits on him. The balls fell tonight."

The Nationals responded with three runs in the sixth inning, beginning with Jerry Hairston Jr.'s two-run shot to left field. Happ left after 5 2/3 innings, handing the ball to Fernando Rodriguez, who allowed his inherited runner to score on an RBI single by Ian Desmond.

Hairston tried to stretch a single into a double after drilling a pitch off the left-field wall to lead off the eighth inning, but Lee's throw beat Hairston to the bag, and the left fielder was called out.

"I've known Carlos for a long time," Hairston said. "Everything had to be perfect for him, and he barely got me."

Bourn added an insurance run in the sixth inning with an RBI single to left field, and that turned out to be the difference after the Nationals scored their sixth run on a 4-6-3 double-play ball in the seventh off David Carpenter, who allowed his first run in six Major League appearances.

"The double play that we turned was big," Mills said. "I think it went off of Carpenter's foot and glanced over to [Angel] Sanchez. It was nice for us to get that break."

Ryan Zimmerman nearly tied the score with a solo shot in the ninth inning off Mark Melancon, but the ball tailed just foul alongside the right-field foul pole. Zimmerman proceeded to ground out, and Melancon walked two before striking Ramos out to end the game.

The bullpen was charged with one earned run in 3 1/3 innings, and has now allowed four earned runs in its last 32 1/3 innings.

"I know they got that single up the middle to score one of Happy's runs, but other than that, the [relief] guys did a real good job," Mills said. Comments