WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Nationals had managed just four runs in losing four straight and were facing one of baseball's top pitchers Tuesday night.
Instead of becoming overly aggressive at the plate, they chose wait out Houston starter Dallas Keuchel, and it worked.
Anthony Rendon doubled twice and drove in three runs, and the Nationals held on to open a six-game homestand with a 6-5 victory over the Astros.
"I think just be patient. See the ball up, and try to put the barrel on it. That's what our game plan was," Rendon said. "Let him pitch up. I think he leads the league in ground ball outs . and we just wanted to see the ball up and not give in to his game."
Keuchel (8-4), the American League leader in ground ball/fly ball ratio (3.84) coming in, was 6-1 with a 1.33 ERA over his last seven starts, but struggled with his command.
"He's a good pitcher. You've got to make him get the ball up," Ryan Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman, who came in 9 for 50 since coming off the disabled list, added two doubles and two RBIs.
"When you don't play for as long as I did and you come back, it's hard to be consistent, but I've been playing for a little while now and I'm starting to get back into a groove," he said.
Tanner Roark (6-4) pitched five innings in winning his third straight start. Rafael Soriano worked the ninth for his 14th save.
Houston's Jose Altuve returned to the lineup, going 4 for 5 with two doubles and two RBIs. He was limited to one pinch-hitting appearance in the last three games after being hit on the right hand by a pitch.
Houston trailed 6-1 before scoring four in the eighth off Tyler Clippard, the last two on a double by Altuve, who is hitting .370 (17 for 46) in June.
Keuchel allowed four earned runs on six hits and a season-high four walks, striking out four in five innings. It was the shortest outing since April 5 for Keuchel, who tied his season high in runs allowed while picking up his first road loss.
"I was kind of battling, trying to find my stuff all night," he said. "I felt fortunate enough to get through five."
Houston has lost three of four overall and 11 of its last 12 against Washington.
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