(Sports Network) - The Houston Astros hope to post their second winning series in more than a month when they close out a four-game set Thursday afternoon versus the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park.
After losing the opener of this series on Monday by 10 runs, the Astros have rebounded with consecutive victories and recorded a 5-1 victory last night behind five decent innings from starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez improved to 3-7 on the season with five innings of one-run ball and eight strikeouts.
"Tonight I felt comfortable with my breaking ball," Rodriguez said. "It was the best I had all year."
Carlos Lee hit a two-run homer and Hunter Pence knocked in a pair of runs for the Astros, who walked off with an 8-7 win in the bottom of the ninth of Tuesday's matchup on Lance Berkman's two-run single.
The Astros have won three of four contests and are aiming for their second series triumph since sweeping St. Louis in three games from May 11-13. Their previous series win was a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh from April 23-25.
Taking the mound for Houston Thursday will be Brian Moehler, who will make his second straight start and 14th appearance of the season. Moehler was destroyed in his previous outing on Saturday in a 12-2 loss at Cincinnati, as he was reached for eight runs and 10 hits in only 2 2/3 innings. The righty fell to 0-2 this season and raised his earned run average to 7.29. Moehler is 3-4 with a 4.97 ERA in 14 career meetings (9 starts) with Washington.
Meanwhile, the Nationals have dropped two in a row and four of their last five games. In last night's four-run setback in the Lone Star State, Adam Dunn went 3-for-4 with the team's lone RBI and Nyjer Morgan had a pair of hits.
Washington starter John Lannan was sent packing with his fifth loss of the season, permitting five runs -- two earned -- on eight hits and two walks.
"It was an OK outing," Lannan said on the Nats' website. "I wish I could have done better. Changeup felt good. When I needed to throw a strike, I did. The curveball felt pretty good."
Lannan didn't get much help with three errors from shortstop Ian Desmond and 13 strikeouts from his hitters. Washington has fanned 13 times in each of the previous two games.
Taking the ball for the Nationals today will be J.D. Martin, who is set to make his second start of the season. The second-year righty made his 2010 debut in last Saturday's 4-2 loss at San Diego and gave up four runs -- one earned -- in six innings. He also struck out five batters.
Martin has never faced the Astros in his career.
Washington and Houston split six meetings a season ago.