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Nationals Move Into First Place With Sweep Of Astros

June 19, 2014

Series recap: Astros at Nationals

Series dates: June 17 and 18

Series location: Washington, D.C.

Results: The Nationals won, 6-5, June 17 and won, 6-5, June 18

Did you know?: Washington stole five bases in the first three innings June 18. ... Houston manager Bo Porter was the third base coach for the Nationals in 2012. ... Houston third base coach Pat Listach is a former coach for the Nationals. ... Astros pitcher Brad Peacock, a former pitcher for the Nationals, did not make the trip to Washington because of a stomach virus, Porter said. ... Astros right-handed pitcher Paul Clemens played at Robinson High in Fairfax, Va., and at Division II Louisburg in North Carolina.

Nationals' record: 37-33 (first place)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY WASHINGTON PLAYERS: Third baseman Anthony Rendon continues to rake against the Astros, his hometown team. He had two hits during the June 17 game, and then hit a home run to lead off the seventh inning June 18 to start a game-winning three-run rally.

Right-hander Tanner Roark allowed one run in five innings during his start June 17. His ERA fell to 2.85.

Ryan Zimmerman and Denard Span each had two hits during the June 17 game, and Span, Rendon, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Adam LaRoche each had two hits June 18.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE NATIONALS: The Nationals continue to get healthy, as lefty pitcher Gio Gonzalez came off the disabled list and started June 18. His performance was less than stellar, as he gave up four runs in five innings and did not figure in the decision.

"It is something you learn from," said Gonzalez, who had been on the disabled list for nearly a month with left shoulder inflammation. "Dust off the cobwebs off and get back at it. There should be no excuses."

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE NATIONALS: The Washington bullpen had another meltdown June 17 as Tyler Clippard, who entered the game with a 1.23 ERA, had a rough eighth inning. He allowed five hits and four runs while getting two outs.

Span made the third out at third base June 18 as he tried to turn a double into a triple. Washington also allowed a run as Ross Detwiler threw a wild pitch and was not able to cover home in time during the June 18 game.

THE M*A*S*H WATCH: Washington ended the series against the Astros with left fielder Bryce Harper (left thumb sprain) and catcher Wilson Ramos (hamstring) on the disabled list.

ROSTER MOVES: On June 17, the Nationals sent left-handed pitcher Xavier Cedeno to Syracuse to make room for Gonzalez.

WHAT WE LEARNED: The Nationals should beat the Astros, whose 32-41 record is the second worst in the American League, and they did, holding off Houston June 17 and then coming back to win June 18. The real test will begin June 19 when the Atlanta Braves come to town. The Nationals are currently in first place in the National League East, 1.5 games ahead of the second-place Braves.

WHAT IS NEXT: The Nationals will begin a four-game series at home against the Braves June 19. The starting pitcher for Atlanta will be Gavin Floyd (1-2, 2.98 ERA), a native of Annapolis who played at Mount St. Joseph in Baltimore. He will be opposed by Jordan Zimmermann (5-3, 2.98), who has thrown two complete games in a row. ... Atlanta third baseman Chris Johnson is the son of Ron Johnson, the manager of the Norfolk (Va.) Tides in the Baltimore farm system. … Atlanta outfielders Justin and B.J. Upton are from the Tidewater area of Virginia, the home of the Norfolk Tides and Washington's Zimmerman. … Atlanta reliever Pedro Beato is a former member of the Bowie Baysox. … The director of professional scouting for Atlanta is Tony DeMacio, a one-time Virginia resident.