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Thursday, August 9th (All times eastern)

Washington Nationals (68-43) at Houston Astros (36-76), 8:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Washington - Jordan Zimmermann (8-6, 2.45) Houston - Lucas Harrell (9-7, 3.98)

(Sports Network) - One of the bright spots in a season that's put them on pace to lose 100 games, right-hander Lucas Harrell aims for his 10th victory of 2012 when the Houston Astros host the Washington Nationals in the finale of a four-game series at Minute Maid Park.

A fourth-round pick of the Chicago White Sox in 2004, Harrell reached the majors with them in 2010 and was 1-0 across three starts in eight appearances.

He pitched in three games with Chicago in 2011 before being placed on waivers and selected by the Astros on July 8. He went on to appear in six games with Houston - making two starts - while going 0-2 with a 3.46 earned run average in 13 innings.

This season has seen him used exclusively as a starter through 22 appearances and he got within a win of No. 10 on Aug. 4 in Atlanta, when he allowed two runs on four hits in six innings of a 3-2 Houston win.

He pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball on April 18 in Washington and got a no-decision in the Nationals' 3-2 win.

The Astros are 9-13 in the 22 games Harrell has pitched and 27-63 in the 90 games he hasn't taken center stage.

In Wednesday's third game, Gio Gonzalez threw the second complete game of his career and hit his first major-league home run to help the Nationals take a 4-3 win against Houston.

Gonzalez (14-6) gave up three runs on nine hits with two walks and seven strikeouts and hit a two-run home run in the second inning for the Nationals, who have won five straight. Ryan Zimmerman added two hits and a run scored.

Armando Galarraga (0-2) allowed three runs on six hits with six walks and five strikeouts over five-plus innings. Justin Maxwell had two hits and drove in a run for the Astros, who lost for the 33rd time in their past 37 games.

In the finale, Washington calls on streaking right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who's not lost in eight starts since June 22.

The 26-year-old Wisconsin native was 3-6 on the season after a 2-1 interleague loss at Baltimore, but has since gone 5-0 in eight starts while trimming his ERA to a stingy 2.45.

He faced Harrell and the Astros in the aforementioned Washington win on April 18 and also got a no-decision after seven innings of one-run ball with no walks and three strikeouts.

Zimmermann is 0-2 in three overall starts against Houston and has allowed 11 runs on 16 hits with 14 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings.

The Nationals won three of four games from the Astros when the teams last met in Washington in April.

They've split season series for three straight years since Houston won, four games to two, in 2008.

08/09 10:28:42 ET


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