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2:05 P.M.: Nationals Try To Rebound In First Of Four Against Lowly Astros

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Carlos Maldonado and Ryan Zimmerman each hit a three-run homer to highlight a nine-run seventh inning, as the Washington Nationals demolished the Houston Astros, 14-4, in the opener of a four-game set at Minute Maid Park.

Zimmerman finished 2-for-2 with four RBI and three runs scored, while Adam Dunn contributed a three-run double and knocked in a total of four runs for the Nationals, who improved to 3-4 on their 10-game road trip. Washington had lost two straight and four of six entering the game.

Luis Atilano (5-1) allowed four runs -- three earned -- on six hits with a pair of walks and struck out a batter while improving to 4-0 in five road starts this season. He lasted 6 2/3 frames.

Michael Bourn had an run-scoring triple and scored twice for Houston, which has fallen on hard times, winning only four times in its last 17 games.

Roy Oswalt (3-7) took the loss after lasting only 2 1/3 innings before getting ejected for arguing balls and strikes by home plate umpire Bill Hohn. The right-hander allowed four runs on as many hits with three walks and three strikeouts. He was replaced by Gustavo Chacin, who tossed 2 2/3 innings in relief of Oswalt and also hit his first career homer, a solo shot in the third inning.

"Roy was getting frustrated with the calls and it kind of escalated from there," Houston manager Brad Mills said about Oswalt's ejection.

Washington manufactured a run in the first to open the scoring. Cristian Guzman doubled leading off, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Nyjer Morgan and crossed the plate on a sac fly from Zimmerman.

Carlos Lee's infield run-scoring single in the home half tied things at 1-1.

However, Oswalt had a rocky top of the third. The Nationals loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk before Dunn stepped in an laced a three-run double to right to make it 4-1. Then with a 3-2 count on Josh Willingham, Oswalt was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Chacin came in and retired the next two hitters after Willingham walked.

Chacin then helped his own cause with a leadoff homer to right in the home third. Atilano worked out of some two-out trouble in the fourth and Washington put another run up in the fifth on an RBI single by Willingham.

Already up 5-2, the Nationals broke it open in the seventh, pushing nine more across. With runners on second and third and nobody out, Dunn's infield single brought home a run. Willingham worked a walk to load the bases, and two batters later, Ian Desmond dropped a single just inside the right field line for a two-run single, then took second on an error with Willingham making it to third. Maldonado then cleared the bases with a three-run shot to left for an 11-2 game.

The Nationals still weren't finished as Guzman and Morgan reached on back-to- back singles and Zimmerman followed with a three-run homer to right. Bourn's RBI triple and first baseman Adam Kennedy's error on a slow roller off the bat Jeff Keppinger allowed another run to score in the home seventh to make it 14-4.

Tyler Walker came on and retired the final batter in the seventh and pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth inning to close out the game.

Washington and Houston split six meetings a season ago...Atilano was facing Houston for the first time in his young career...This was the opener of a seven-game homestand for Houston, which will also face the Chicago Cubs in a three-game set...Guzman and Morgan set the table in the top of the batting order, combining for seven runs scored...Guzman went 3-for-6 with three runs scored, while Morgan finished 3-for-4, crossed the plate four times and stole two bases.