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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, April 18th (All times Eastern)

Houston Astros (4-7) at Washington Nationals (9-3), 7:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Houston - Lucas Harrell (1-0, 3.27) Washington - Jordan Zimmermann (0-1, 1.29)

(Sports Network) - Wisconsin-born right-hander Jordan Zimmermann hopes for some better luck in his third start of the season tonight, when the Washington Nationals host the Houston Astros in the third of a four-game series at Nationals Park.

Zimmermann, who won eight times in 26 starts last season, has pitched 14 innings across two starts thus far in 2012, but has walked away with just a loss and a no-decision after allowing only nine hits and two earned runs.

The 25-year-old has walked two batters and struck out seven while the Nationals lost at Chicago, 4-3, and defeated Cincinnati, 2-1.

Zimmermann has made two career starts against Houston and lost them both while surrendering 12 hits and 10 runs in 11 1/3 innings - posting a 7.15 earned run average.

He's opposed by Astros youngster Lucas Harrell, who'll also start for the third time this season.

The 26-year-old tossed seven innings of scoreless three-hit ball in a 7-3 defeat of Colorado on April 7, then went seven innings and gave up four runs in a no-decision against Miami six days later.

Harrell is 2-2 in 19 career major-league outings - seven starts - that includes a 2010-11 stint with the Chicago White Sox, who drafted him as a fourth-rounder in 2004.

He took a loss in his lone meeting with Washington after giving up an unearned run in 1 1/3 innings of work.

In Tuesday's second game, Gio Gonzalez was dominant again at Nationals Park.

After throwing seven innings of two-hit ball against the Reds in his last start on April 12, he duplicated that performance against the Astros in a 1-0 win for Washington.

Gonzalez (1-0) threw seven shutout innings and gave up two hits while fanning eight.

Tyler Clippard turned away the Astros in the eighth and Brad Lidge worked through a shaky ninth to pick up his second save of the season.

Jayson Werth finished 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored and Adam LaRoche knocked in the only run for the Nationals, who have won seven of their last eight and improved to 9-3 on the young season.

Wandy Rodriguez (0-2) was the hard-luck loser, yielding five hits and no walks while fanning three.

Justin Maxwell, Jed Lowrie, Jordan Schafer and Jose Altuve each had a hit, but it wasn't enough to push across a run, as the Astros lost for the sixth time in seven tries.

The Astros and Nats split their six meetings last season, with each team winning twice at home.

04/18 10:31:21 ET

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