<
>

Young's three-run homer sends Nats past Astros

• Quotable: "That's the situation that everybody loves to be in. Not every time do you come through, but it's always good
when you come through." -- Young

• Fantasy stat: Young has 10 RBIs in his last five games.

• Figure this: Woody Williams gave up the shot to Young and now leads the NL with 22 homers allowed.

• Road woes: Houston dropped its seventh straight road game.

-- ESPN.com news services

Nationals 4, Astros 2

WASHINGTON -- If the Washington Nationals do wind up trading
Dmitri Young, he'll take a big chunk of their offense with him.

Young followed No. 3 hitter Ryan Zimmerman's bunt single with a
go-ahead, three-run homer Monday night, leading Washington to a 4-3
victory over the Houston Astros, who have lost seven consecutive
road games.

"That's the situation that everybody loves to be in," Young
said. "Not every time do you come through, but it's always good
when you come through."

Washington's lone All-Star last week, he lifted his batting
average to a team-best .339 and his RBI total to a team-leading 52.
His ninth homer of the season came on a 1-0 curveball from Woody
Williams with one out in the sixth inning.

"The hitting is not surprising. This guy's got the track
record. He's hit all his life," Nationals manager Manny Acta said.
"It's just a great story -- a guy having all those problems, no one
was willing to give him a chance."

Well, the Nationals did, even though in 2006 alone, Young faced
an assault charge, treatment for alcoholism and depression, a
divorce and hospitalization for diabetes -- and was cut by Detroit
with less than a month left in the regular season.

Young signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Nationals in
February and opened spring training in their minor league camp. But
with Nick Johnson recovering from a broken leg, Young earned the
starting job at first base -- and he's thrived.

"Once you know how to do it," Zimmerman said, "you can't
forget."

Young's in his 12th big league season, Zimmerman's in his
second, and the kid came up with what the veteran called a "smart,
smart move" in the sixth inning. After Ronnie Belliard singled,
Zimmerman dropped a bunt down the third-base line and reached
easily.

"Not too many times is a 3-hole hitter going to lay down a
bunt," said Williams (4-11). "That's a good play on his part."

Acta's take was a little different.

"Right now, it looks good," he said. "I'm not a big fan of
that."

Still, Young followed with the 22nd homer Williams has allowed
this season, the most in the NL.

In the 50 games since May 17, Young is hitting .404, the best
average in the majors over that span. He entered Monday with a .336
average, second in the NL.

"I read just recently that he changed his life around. That's
good for him," said Astros manager Phil Garner, who managed Young
in Detroit. "I'd just as soon he hit his home runs against someone
else, though."

Young's success is why a rebuilding Washington, 38-54 after
Monday's victory, might be able to get good prospects for him ahead
of the July 31 trade deadline.

"We're going to enjoy it while he's here," Washington catcher
Brian Schneider said.

Young's big hit put Washington ahead 4-2 and made a winner of
reliever Saul Rivera (4-2), who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings and
stranded two inherited runners. Jon Rauch allowed Carlos Lee's 17th
homer before getting out of the eighth, and closer Chad Cordero
pitched a perfect ninth for his 16th save.

Rivera replaced Mike Bacsik, who gave up two runs -- one earned -- and seven hits over 5 2/3 innings.

"Our bullpen, once again -- it picks us up every time," Bacsik
said.

Game notes
Lee's RBI single to right in the sixth snapped an 0-for-9
drought. ... Astros RHP Chad Qualls lost his appeal of a three-game
suspension and $3,000 fine for throwing a baseball into the stands
during a game last month. Qualls, who got one out in relief Monday,
will begin serving the suspension Tuesday.