Series: Game 2 of 4

Series tied 1-1 (as of 4/8)

Game 1: Friday, April 7
Game 2: Saturday, April 8
Game 3: Sunday, April 9
Game 4: Monday, April 10
in 12

Nationals 12

(2-3, 2-3 away)

Astros 8

(3-2, 3-2 home)

    7:05 PM ET, April 8, 2006

    Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas 

    123456789 R H E
    WAS 021000630 12 14 0
    HOU 500001101 8 14 0

    W: L. Hernandez (1-1)

    L: C. Qualls (0-1)

    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.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press