HOUSTON (AP) — After hitting just .136 last April, the Washington Nationals are certainly enjoying the way Adam LaRoche has started this season.
LaRoche continued his hot start Tuesday night, hitting a tying double in the eighth inning and a go-ahead single in the ninth to lift the Nationals over the Houston Astros 4-3.
"It's good for him because he's not traditionally a fast starter," manager Matt Williams said. "He really focused on it in spring training and really focused on driving one in. He's going to hit homers with guys on base but that one's big for us as evidenced tonight. If he can do that the homers will come ... but when he can consistently drive runs in like that we're a better team."
Jayson Werth homered as the Nationals won the opener of the interleague series.
Denard Span drew a leadoff walk in the ninth, stole second and advanced to third on a groundout. He scored on LaRoche's hit to right field off Josh Fields (0-3).
"When I'm feeling pretty good, one, I'm taking some walks and two, I'm using the whole field," LaRoche said.
LaRoche is hitting .312 with four home runs, 17 RBIs and 16 walks in 2014.
Tyler Clippard (2-2) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win. Rafael Soriano walked two in a scoreless ninth for his fifth save.
Werth hit fourth home run in the first inning. Houston scored three times in the third for a 3-2 lead, helped by rookie George Springer's two-run single.
Houston manager Bo Porter was troubled that his team let another one get away late.
"It's very concerning, because our starting pitcher did a very good job," he said. "You feel like you are in position to win the game, you have the right guys matched up, and you just don't get it done."
Werth singled to start the eighth and scored on LaRoche's double to left-center field. Center fielder Dexter Fowler tracked the ball to the wall, but it glanced off his glove as he crashed to the ground.
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