HOUSTON(AP) As Kaz Matsui hit ball after ball into the stands during a recent batting practice, Astros manager
teased him about being a home run hitter.
Matsui protested, insisting that he was no home run hitter.
He showed that he can beon Sunday, knocking a three-run shot to lead the
to a 5-0 win over the
''The was a good thing that it happened,'' he said through a translator. ''I'm not a home a run hitter. I just try to get
on base. I've only hit three home runs, but the home run (today) was big.''
Matsui's shot into the first row of the stands in right field near the bullpen came in the seventh inning and gave Houston
a 4-0 lead. The win gave the Astros a 3-1 series victory over the last-place Nationals and leaves Houston at .500 heading
into the All-Star break.
The Astros got another solid start from
(6-5), who allowed seven hits in 6 1-3 innings to win for the fourth time in five decisions. Closer
got the last four outs for his eighth save of the season and the 150th of his career.
''Terrific, terrific job by Mr.
today,'' Cooper said. ''We definitely needed it today, and he stepped up in a big way. We were a little short-handed. We only
had two or three guys out there in the bullpen and Brian stepped up really huge for us.''
Houston added a run in the eighth inning when
scored on a balk by
, who looked to have lost his balance and almost fell off the mound.
''He caught his spikes on the dirt,'' Nationals manager Manny Acta said. ''But all he had to do was release the ball and let
it roll and it wouldn't have been a balk. But he's just a kid and he didn't know.''
was hit by a pitch in the seventh before
struck out before Matsui's homer. Nationals starter
(3-4) walked reliever
before he was replaced by
, who finally got out of the inning.
A day after getting their most runs (13) and hits (21) of the season, the Nationals got 11 hits but couldn't convert, leaving
13 men on base.
''We had a lot of hits, we just didn't have hits in the clutch situations,'' said Washington's
, who finished with a career-high four hits. ''We had a couple of opportunities with runners in scoring position but we just
couldn't do the job.''
Nieves singled in the seventh before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by Zimmermann. Moehler was replaced by Arias,
who allowed a single by
walked to load the bases for the second straight inning, but the Nationals came away empty again after
popped out and
Houston was helped on that play by shifting the defense to the right to deal with the left-handed Dunn. The shift left
behind second base and in perfect position to grab Dunn's grounder and get it to Berkman at first for the out.
Johnson doubled to open the sixth inning before Moehler allowed two straight walks with one out to load the bases. He got
out of the jam by retiring
to end the inning.
Tejada's single in the first inning scored
and gave Houston a 1-0 lead. Bourn had reached and advanced to second when Gonzalez overthrew first base.
got a double in the fourth inning on a fly ball to left-center field. The Astros argued that it hit above the yellow line
on the wall and should be a home run and the officials reviewed the call. Replays showed it hit below the line and the call
Zimmermann allowed five hits and four runs with six strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings.
NOTES: Astros RHP
, on the disabled list with a left hamstring injury, will throw a bullpen session on Tuesday and is scheduled to throw a simulated
game Friday. He threw a bullpen session Sunday and said he is feeling great. ... Houston optioned RHP
to Triple-A Round Rock after the game. The Astros will likely bring LHP
up from Round Rock on Thursday to fill the roster spot. ... Washington will option LHP
to Triple-A Syracuse and will likely bring up RHP