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Nationals Look To Snap Three Game Losing Streak At Home Against Reds

(Sports Network) - Resurgent right-hander Aaron Harang takes the mound for the Cincinnati Reds tonight when the National League's Central Division co-leaders head to Washington to begin a three-game series with the Nationals at Nationals Park.

Cincinnati shares the division lead with St. Louis after dropping two of three games to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in a series that ended Wednesday.

Chris Carpenter allowed only one run in eight strong innings, earning his eighth consecutive winning decision against the Reds in a 4-1 Cardinals victory.

Scott Rolen drove in the only run for the Reds, who have lost three of four following a four-game win streak. Sam LeCure (1-1), making his second major league start, gave up three runs on six hits and four walks in 5 1/3 frames.

Harang, who'd slumped from a double-digit winner to just six victories in each of the last two seasons, has won two straight and four of six since starting this year with three straight losses.

He downed Houston, 12-2, at home on May 29, allowing four hits and a run in seven innings. His next win will be the 80th of his big-league career.

Since a 14-6 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 21, the 32-year-old has lowered his earned run average from 8.31 to 5.48.

Harang is winless in five career starts against the Nationals, losing a pair of decisions while posting a 3.99 ERA in 29 1/3 innings.

For Washington, veteran righty Livan Hernandez seeks a return to the success he had earlier in the season.

The Cuban export was 4-1 with a miniscule 0.99 ERA after five starts, but has since gone 0-2 with a pair of no-decisions while the number has more than doubled to 2.15.

He allowed two runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings in his last outing, a no- decision at San Diego on May 30.

One start prior, he was touched for four runs on seven hits in a 4-2 loss at San Francisco.

The Nationals are 6-4 in games he's pitched.

Lifetime against the Reds, Hernandez is 2-7 in 13 starts.

On Thursday in Houston, Carlos Lee hit a game-winning two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, as the Astrosscored three times in the frame to come back and shock the Nationals, 6-4, in the finale of a four-game set at Minute Maid Park.

Lance Berkman finished 2-for-5 with solo homer and reached on a two-base error by right fielder Cristian Guzman that allowed the tying run to score in the home ninth.

The Astros, who dropped the opener of the set, took the last three and have won four of five overall. Lee drove in three runs and Kevin Cash added a solo homer in the victory.

Matt Lindstrom (2-1) picked up the win despite giving up two runs on three hits in the top of the ninth. Houston starter Brian Moehler worked 5 1/3 innings and gave up two runs on five hits with three strikes and one walk.

Willie Harris had an RBI triple and Guzman contributed a run-scoring single in the top of the ninth for Washington, which has dropped five of its last six.

Matt Capps (0-3) suffered the loss for giving up two hits and three unearned runs in the bottom of the ninth. Nationals starter J.D. Martin worked 5 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits, three runs -- two earned -- with four strikeouts and one walk.

Washington won four of its seven matchups with the Reds last season.