Nationals start set with Astros in DC

The highlight of Tom Milone's major league debut last weekend unfortunately came at the plate for the young southpaw.

Milone gets a second crack at his first victory this evening when his Washington Nationals begin a three-game series with the visiting Houston Astros.

The 24-year-old Milone got the call for the Nats on Saturday versus the Mets and did not get a decision in his club's 8-7 win. He didn't help himself much on the mound by allowing four runs on six hits over 4 1/3 innings, but did crack a homer on the first pitch of his first major league at-bat.

"It was almost like I didn't feel it come off the bat," Milone said of his home run swing. "I wasn't really sure if it was a home run yet, but once it kept traveling in the air as I was running down the line I kind of knew it. It was definitely a good feeling."

Washington was slated to play two games versus the Los Angeles Dodgers, but had the second contest postponed due to rain after the Nats dropped the first game, 7-4. The washed out meeting will only be made up if necessary.

Jayson Werth hit a two-run homer and both Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse hit RBI doubles, but Drew Storen allowed three runs on three hits in the ninth to take the loss, Washington's second straight and sixth in eight games.

"We've been kind of hot and cold with the bats this year," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "I thought we should have jumped on them a little bit more."

Houston swung hot bats on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, but it did not translate into a win. Carlos Lee belted a two-run homer and Matt Downs and Clint Barmes added solo shots in a 5-4 loss.

It was the Astros' fifth loss in six games and was one manager Brad Mills felt his club should have had.

"That was our game to win tonight," said Mills. "We've had a few of them like that this season, but this one is really tough to swallow."

Bud Norris will start tonight for the Astros and he has won just once in his last four decisions and 10 starts. He is coming off a loss to the Brewers on Saturday after allowing six runs -- five earned -- on nine hits, two homers and a walk in 5 1/3 innings of action.

The 26-year-old righty is 6-9 with a 3.83 ERA in 28 starts this year, but 1-2 with a 5.24 ERA in his last six appearances.

Norris has faced the Nats just once in his career, besting the club on Sept. 20 of last year. He allowed two runs over 6 2/3 frames.

The Astros took two of three over the Nationals on July 18-20, but lost three of four in Washington a season ago.