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Vidro, Soriano combine for nine RBI in Nats' win

HOUSTON (AP) -- Jose Vidro is healthy and Alfonso Soriano is
adjusting to his new position.

On Saturday, that combination made the Washington Nationals look
nothing like the team that had the worst offense in the majors last
season.

Vidro hit a three-run homer and drove in a career high-tying
five runs, and Soriano had four RBI to help the Nationals rally
for a 12-8 victory over the Houston Astros.

Knee and shoulder injuries limited Vidro to 87 games last year
and certainly contributed to Washington's league-worst averages in
batting (.252) and runs (3.94).

"I'm just glad I'm helping my ballclub win ballgames," Vidro
said. "I'm very happy that I'm as healthy as I wanted to be."

Vidro has a hit in each of Washington's first five games. As
pleased as Nationals manager Frank Robinson is with that, he's
expecting even more in the future.

"You haven't seen him yet," Robinson said. "Wait 'til he
starts filling the gaps up with doubles and popping home runs. But
he's pretty darn close right now.

"He's gotten off to an excellent start. He looks very
comfortable at the plate. He makes a big, big difference in this
lineup."

Houston led 6-3 before the Nationals scored six runs in the
seventh inning. Soriano hit a two-out double off Chad Qualls to
drive in Marlon Byrd and Nick Johnson and give Washington an 8-6
lead. Ryan Zimmerman, who was 0-for-9 with seven strikeouts in his
previous two games, drove in Soriano with a base hit.

Qualls (0-1) recorded just one out and allowed four hits and
four runs before being replaced by Russ Springer.

"I'm more frustrated about the outcome," Qualls said. "I let
the game get out of hand instead of stopping them like I normally
do."

Soriano also hit a two-run homer off Astros starter Roy Oswalt,
who left with one out in the seventh. Oswalt allowed seven hits,
five runs and struck out three, after pitching eight shutout
innings in his first start this season.

Soriano balked after being asked to move from second base to
outfield following his trade from the Rangers, but is feeling
better about the move now.

"The only problem is getting comfortable with myself," Soriano
said. "It's different for me, a different team. I have to try to
do the best I can, working, trying to get comfortable in the left
field and with my teammates, too."

Livan Hernandez (1-1) improved to 5-1 at Minute Maid Park
despite allowing 12 hits and six runs in six innings for the
Nationals.

Houston jumped out to an early lead. Lance Berkman hit a two-run
homer for the third straight game, driving in Craig Biggio in
Houston's five-run first. Brad Ausmus had a two-run single and
Oswalt also drove in a run with base hit.

Robinson said he was impressed with the way Hernandez bounced
back after the rough start.

"Livo was just huge the way he shut 'em down after the first
inning," Robinson said. "I just could not go to the bullpen in
the first inning. I had to stay with him. And he did it. He got
better as he went along."

Biggio became the 43rd player and the first Astro to record
2,800 career hits with his single in the first. He has hits in four
of Houston's first five games.

"It's amazing when he passes the likes of Joe DiMaggio last
year," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "Those are clearly Hall
of Fame numbers."

Berkman also had two-run shots in Friday's 6-1 win over
Washington and Wednesday's 6-5 victory against Florida. He also had
an RBI single in the sixth.

The Astros added a run on Jason Lane's homer in the seventh.
Lane was 0-for-12 entering the game.

Oswalt's streak of 18 straight scoreless innings against the
Nationals franchise was broken on Soriano's home run in the second.
He hadn't given up a run to the franchise since an RBI triple by
Vidro in April 2002.

Vidro's single to right field in the third got past Berkman and
scored Byrd from second.

Preston Wilson also homered for the third consecutive game for
Houston.

Game notes
Jose Guillen did not start the game after being hit in the
forearm by a pitch from Brandon Backe on Friday, but entered the
game in the seventh. He had two hits and scored two runs. ...
Biggio extended his major league record for being hit by pitches to
274 when he was plunked on the arm by Hernandez in the sixth.