WASHINGTON – Danny Espinosa hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning and a triple, and Michael Morse added a solo shot, helping the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros 4-3 on Wednesday night before a crowd of 12,213.
September call-up Espinosa's fifth homer barely cleared the out-of-town scoreboard in right field off the second pitch from reliever Jeff Fulchino (2-1). Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez walked Justin Maxwell leading off the inning.
Espinosa scored Washington's first run of the game after tripling in the third, coming home on Ian Desmond's infield single. Morse's 12th homer came on Rodriguez's first pitch of the fourth.
Tyler Clippard (11-6) earned the win despite allowing two inherited runners to score in the seventh.
Nationals starter Jason Marquis pitched into the seventh, allowing seven hits and two runs. He's allowed two or fewer earned runs in five of his last seven starts, showing signs of coming back after having right elbow surgery in May.
Jason Michaels led off the seventh with a double for his third hit of the game, and that was it for Marquis. Doug Slaten came in and walked the only batter he faced.
Clippard entered and promptly walked pinch-hitter Anderson Hernandez. After getting Rodriguez to pop up a bunt attempt, Clippard walked Jason Bourgeois to load the bases, and Angel Sanchez lined a two-run single to right to put Houston in front 3-2.
Clippard was followed by Joel Peralta, who struck out three batters in 1 1-3 innings. Sean Burnett got the last two outs for his third save in four chances.
Houston's first run came in the fourth inning. Marquis got the first two batters out, including Carlos Lee on a hard liner that left fielder Roger Bernadina caught with a spectacular dive on a full sprint. But Marquis hit the next batter, Chris Johnson, and gave up two singles in a row, with Michaels driving in the run.
Washington went back up 2-1 in its half of the fourth, on Morse's homer to straightaway center.
Rodriguez went 6 1-3 innings, allowing three runs and six hits. He also hit Adam Dunn with a pitch in the fifth inning. Dunn remained in the game to play first base until his at-bat in the seventh, when he was replaced by pinch-hitter Kevin Mench. The Nationals said Dunn had a bruised right elbow.
Notes: Espinosa made his major league debut Sept. 1. He was a third-round pick in the 2008 draft out of Long Beach State. ... It rained briefly during batting practice, and during the game, bolts of lightning flashed beyond the outfield every so often. ... Lee was doubled off first base after leaving the bag too early on a fly to center in the sixth. ... Astros RF Hunter Pence was out of the starting lineup, as expected, after hurting his right hip flexor while running out a grounder in the first inning Tuesday night. ... Houston also was missing OF Michael Bourn, who sat out a third consecutive game after straining a right side muscle Sunday. ... The Nationals signed a two-year player development contract with Single-A Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League. ... The Astros claimed RHP Cesar Carrillo off waivers from the San Diego Padres and designated INF Edwin Maysonet for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. The 26-year-old Carrillo was a first-round pick in the 2005 amateur draft and went 1-2 with a 13.06 ERA in three starts for San Diego in 2009. Carrillo was 5-14 in 27 starts at Triple-A Portland this year.