Even with patchwork pitching, the Washington Nationals are suddenly winning.
Ryan Church hit a go-ahead three-run double, the Nationals' bullpen provided five shutout innings, and last-place Washington beat the Atlanta Braves, 6-4, last night for its fifth victory in six games.
Church's liner to right-center off Kyle Davies (1-2) capped a four-run fifth in which the Nationals batted around and all of the runs were unearned, thanks to second baseman Kelly Johnson's fielding error.
The big hit also helped Washington overcome a shaky first major-league start by Levale Speigner, who until Wednesday had been used primarily as a long reliever in his first season above double A.
Speigner, facing the club he grew up cheering for in Thomasville, Ga., was moved into the rotation to fill in for Shawn Hill, who's on the disabled list. The righthanded Speigner lasted four innings, allowing at least one hit in each, and gave up four runs and eight hits.
He was followed by Billy Traber (1-0), who earned the win by pitching his first inning of 2007 for the Nationals. He was called up from triple-A Columbus earlier in the day to take the roster spot of starter Jerome Williams, sent back to the disabled list with shoulder problems one day after coming back from an ankle injury that put him on the DL.
Atlanta took a 4-2 lead into the fifth, after three consecutive hits in the first inning produced two runs and a similar sequence had the same result in the fourth.
Astros 2, Giants 1
HOUSTON - Rookie Hunter Pence homered for the second straight game and Houston beat San Francisco for its fourth straight win.
The win gives Houston its first home series win over the Giants since 1999 and breaks a streak of five consecutive series losses to San Francisco.
Pence put Houston up, 2-1, with a homer that bounced off the train tracks above the left-field wall in the fourth inning. He hit a tying two-run drive in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 6-5, 10-inning win.
Pence, who was called up April 27 to boost the offense, is 7 for 7 in this series. He had singles in the second, sixth and eighth innings and has four home runs and 15 RBIs this season.
Giants slugger Barry Bonds was 1 for 3 with a single and a walk. He hasn't hit a homer since May 8 and remains 10 away from tying Hank Aaron's career record of 755. His drought at Minute Maid Park stretches to opening day of 2004.
Marlins 4, Pirates 3
PITTSBURGH - Josh Willingham and Miguel Cabrera had RBI doubles in an eighth-inning rally, and Florida won for the second night in a row after losing four straight.
The Marlins trailed by 3-2 entering the eighth, but Hanley Ramirez singled off reliever Matt Capps (2-1) with one out. Cabrera and Willingham followed with doubles to make it 4-3.
Pittsburgh lost its 12th in 18 games despite Adam LaRoche's first homer at home this season during a three-hit night, all of which figured in its scoring.
Rockies 5, Diamondbacks 3
DENVER - Brad Hawpe homered twice and drove in four runs to lead Aaron Cook and Colorado past Arizona.
Hawpe's first career multi-homer game overshadowed the solid major-league debut of Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds, who went 2 for 3 and doubled home two runs with his first major-league hit.
Both of Hawpe's homers - his second and third of the season - came off Brandon Webb (3-3), last year's Cy Young award winner.