Wire Taps: Washington Nationals In Houston For Four-Game Set With Future AL West Astros.

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 03: Adam LaRoche #25 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after scoring a run in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on August 3, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

• The Houston Astros are 3-17 in their last 20 games, but they did manage to beat the Atlanta Braves once this weekend with former Nats' outfielder Justin Maxwell putting on a power display on the road in Turner Field. Now the 'Stros head home to Minute Maid Park where they'll welcome the Washington Nationals for a four-game set that starts tonight at 8:05 pm EDT. The Nationals took 3 of 4 from the Astros in Nats Park earlier this season, but they've experienced issues when visiting Houston recently, dropping two of three last season and three of four in 2010. These are the new Nats, however, who head out on this ten-game road trip with a 33-21 road record and a 3.0 game lead over Atlanta in the NL East. Edwin Jackson vs Dallas Keuchel in Houston tonight. It all starts an hour later than NatsTown's used to at 8:05 pm EDT, but the start can't arrive soon enough for everyone who wants to keep the momentum going. The Nats vs the Astros tonight in Houston. Until then, links and lots of them, RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!

• "The Nationals’ lineup is saddled with too many weak hitters who don’t know how to draw a walk." - "Why Washington Is Doing So Well" - David Leonhardt, NYTimes.com

• NATS BEAT:

• "As usual, [Tom] Gorzelanny, 30, will earn little recognition for that appearance but, inside the Nationals clubhouse, his role and work is appreciated." - "Tom Gorzelanny: the Nationals’ unheralded clean up man" - James Wagner, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "In all likelihood, 24-year-old Stephen Strasburg's season will end within weeks with the Washington Nationals likely in a fierce pennant race." - "Why Strasburg shouldn't be shut down" - Beth Ann Clyde and Eli Marger, ESPN

• "The same thing happened 100 years ago, but in this case most of the effective hurling was done by one man. His name was Walter Johnson." - "HELLER: ’12: The year D.C.’s baseball team became a winner" - Dick Heller, Washington Times

• "From an outsider's perspective, it might be an unlikely offensive duo which has driven in the Nationals' four runs so far today..." - "Nationals Pastime: LaRoche, Strasburg just keep on raking (Nats win 4-1)" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "With six scoreless innings of three-hit ball, [Stephen] Strasburg pitched the Nationals to a 4-1 victory and once again erased the negative memories of his prior start." - "Strasburg bounces back" - Mark Zuckerman, CSNWashington.com

• "Instead, [Stephen] Strasburg put on a show on the mound and at the plate for the 30,453 at Nationals Park." - "Strasburg shows he's an ace at everything for the Nationals" - Craig Stouffer, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "In his last six starts, [Edwin] Jackson is 2-3 with a 5.40 ERA. Opponents are batting .309 with seven homers off him during that stretch." - "Washington Nationals at Houston Astros - August 6, 2012" - Clark Goble, MLB.com Preview

• "In the fourth inning, with one out and a runner on base, [Ricky] Nolasco tossed two of [Bryce] Harper’s worst enemies, breaking balls away, and he missed both, striking out again." - "Bryce Harper: his slump, broken bat and an apology" - James Wagner, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "[Jayson Werth is] playing the way I always thought he was going to play. I didn’t see that last year,' said manager Davey Johnson.'" - "Jayson Werth hasn't missed a beat since his return" - Zachary Holden, Washington Times

• "On Sunday, Strasburg returned to his "old" form and rolled through the Marlins, allowing just one extra-base hit in six innings, striking out six for the 4-1 victory." - "Strasburg back to basics, beats Marlins" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "'I wouldn't have blamed them [for trying to sign] Prince Fielder. I was hurt all year,' [Adam] LaRoche said Sunday." - "LaRoche steps up at first in comeback season" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "As it turns out, [Jayson] Werth's only transition has been from cautious optimism to downright giddiness after a fantastic re-debut weekend at Nationals Park." - "Werth surprised by smooth return" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "[Stephen Strasburg] was back on track Sunday and the ups and downs of the last three weeks don't concern Nationals manager Davey Johnson because he has seen this before with young pitchers." - "Stephen Strasburg's maturation process" - Craig Heist, WTOP.com

• "In Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, baseball has been blessed with two absurdly tantalizing talents who aren't old enough to legally buy a beer but are accomplished enough to earn the respect of their big league peers." - "Anthony Castrovince: Bryce Harper's transcendent talent trumps all" - Anthony Castrovince, nationals.com: News

• "'I think the errors are uncharacteristic of me,' [Danny] Espinosa said. 'I made two stupid errors [Saturday], and I'm not trying to think about those when I'm coming up to bat.'" - "Nationals' Espinosa fights through slump" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "[Drew] Storen’s pitches showed dramatic movement: He struck out Jose Reyes on four pitches with a dipping slider mixed in with a 94-mph fastball and less-used change-up." - "Drew Storen notches first save since surgery, is ready for larger workload" - James Wagner, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "There are times in the long, dusty baseball season when a team needs its ace to be its ace." - "DALY: At long last, Nationals' Stephen Strasburg again comes up aces" - Dan Daly, Washington Times

• "Clearly frustrated with himself, [Bryce] Harper slammed the barrel of his bat on home plate, breaking the piece of lumber down the middle and causing Marlins catcher John Buck to flinch." - "Nationals Pastime: The continued evolution of an ace" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Coming off arguably the worst start of his brief career, Strasburg found solace in a familiar foe: the Marlins." - "Instant analysis: Nats 4, Marlins 1" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "The Nationals right-hander also extended his string of scoreless innings against the Marlins to 27, including 18 this year." - "Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals - August 5, 2012" - Mike Fiammetta, MLB.com WSH Recap

• "Wearing a Nationals workout shirt and athletic long shorts with two white batting gloves, he was ready for work." - "Suzuki getting comfortable, excited about new challenge with Nationals" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Manager Davey Johnson said his pitcher’s series of up-and-down outings is simply evidence of a young pitcher learning about himself and the system." - "For Stephen Strasburg, a big rebound on the mound" - Kelly Parsons, Washington Times

• "'The way I feel now, I feel great, but trying to pick up a bat and things like that, I don't know for sure,' [Ian] Desmond said." - "Desmond improving, but no timetable for return" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "'This is how it's supposed to be,' Espinosa said. 'When you're in first place, you should be playing in front of a sold out crowd and when you do good things, it should be loud.'" - "Nationals Pastime: Reveling in a fantastic atmosphere" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama): "Affection is important because it counters anger, hatred and suspicion that can prevent our minds from functioning clearly."

• NATS MINORS:

Class-A Short Season Auburn: Cyclones 8, Doubledays 0 - Estarlin Martinez - 1 for 3, BB, K; Brett Mooneyham - 1.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K's, 1 HR - Auburn Doubledays Scoreboard

Class-A Hagerstown: Legends 16, Suns 6 - Caleb Ramsey - 3 for 5, 2 2B; Taylor Jordan - 3.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K's - Hagerstown Suns Scoreboard

Class-A Potomac: "The Dash jumped on Potomac starter Matt Grace early with four hits to lead off the game." - "Not A Perfect 10: Dash Complete BB&T Ballpark Sweep of Potomac" - Potomac Nationals News

Double-A Harrisburg: "Sunday afternoon the Senators dropped a rain-shortened 6-3 decision to the Richmond Flying Squirrels." - "Rain, Richmond Defeat the Sens 6-3" - Terry Byrom, Harrisburg Senators News

Triple-A Syracuse: "Syracuse's scheduled starting pitchers for the twin bill are left-hander Zach Duke and right-hander Erik Arnesen." - "Chiefs, Bisons rained out in Buffalo on Sunday" - Syracuse Chiefs News

• "[Anthony] Rendon's 20-day rehab assignment expires this week, so I believe he will be returned to Potomac for their Aug. 10 home game." - "Martinson, Goodwin, Perry, Rendon and Walters notes and more" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Monday’s News & Notes" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• NATSTOWN:

• "Drew Storen made his first appearance of 2012 for the Washington Nationals on July 19. But Storen really, really returned on Sunday..." - "Drew Storen returns, 2+ weeks later..." - Nats Enquirer

• "This is the third time this season that Harper has, as Dan put it, publicly KO’d a bat." - "Bryce Harper shatters his bat on home plate" - Dan Steinberg, DC Sports Bog - The Washington Post

• "August 6, 1917 - Eddie Plank, in the last game of his career, squares off against Walter Johnson in a fabulous, 11 inning pitching duel, won by Johnson, 1-0." - "This Date in Washington Senators History – Rookie Sid Hudson records his second 1 hit shutout" - Art Audley, D.C. Baseball History

• "The win gives the Nats a 65-43 record, 22 games above .500 and three games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the N.L. East." - "Washington Nationals Game 108 Review: Strasburg shuts down Marlins again, 4-1" - Dave Nichols, District Sports Page

• "Adam LaRoche continued to swing a hot bat, driving in the other two RBI in that second inning. LaRoche has raised his batting average by 24 points in the last 14 games, and has hit .442 during that time frame." - "Nats Finish The Series Right Against Marlins" - Joe Drugan, The Nats Blog

• "The Nationals racing presidents pushed the envelope once again as they wrapped up an Olympic-themed homestand at Nationals Park." - "Video: Presidential Steeplechase concludes week of Olympic-themed races" - Presidents Race Fan, Let Teddy Win!

• "Sharkadina on Fox Sports Florida" - Sharkadina

• "The New York Times has confirmed that Nats COO Andy Feffer and his marketing team coined a team slogan that happens to fit the mood of Washington, circa 2012. Why not?" - "Morning pixels: The New York Times has Natitude" - Dan Steinberg, DC Sports Bog - The Washington Post

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Marlins: "On Sunday, Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco didn’t appreciate [Bryce] Harper’s reaction after the strikeout. "No comment,' Nolasco said when asked about it." - "Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper breaks bat after strikeout..." - Joe Capozzi, www.palmbeachpost.com

Mets: "Matt Harvey’s first major league road trip had a little bit of everything, finishing yesterday with the kind of thud that could only leave the Mets rookie hungry for the ball again." - "New York Mets and rookie pitcher Matt Harvey roughed up in 7-3 loss to San Diego Padres" - Mike Puma, NYPOST.com

Braves: "He leads the Braves in batting average (.317), on-base percentage (.394) and slugging percentage (.513), and in his past 30 games he’s hit .368 with 13 doubles, five homers and 22 RBIs." - "Chipper says he won’t reconsider retirement" - David O'Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Phillies: "The Phillies have sold off Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, and Joe Blanton. Their playoff chances are down to 0.1 percent." - "Things to Look for in the Final Two Months" - Bill Baer, Crashburn Alley

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