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STL@WSH: Gio limits Cards to one run over seven solid

WASHINGTON -- Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez feels good enough to pitch against the Astros on Tuesday night in Houston. He dealt with tightness in his shoulder during his last start on Wednesday against the Angels, but said it's not an issue.

"After the fifth inning, it started getting a little colder. [The shoulder] felt a little tight," Gonzalez said. "[Manager] Matt [Williams] started seeing it in the sixth inning. I feel fine now. I did all my exercises. I feel great. Next question."

Gonzalez picked up a no-decision in a 5-4 Nationals' victory over the Angels. He left the game in the sixth inning because of the shoulder problems.

Entering the sixth, Gonzalez had retired 10 consecutive batters and appeared to be on his way to a quality start. But before long, the Angels had a 2-1 lead and Gonzalez was temporarily on the hook for a loss.

The Astros will turn to right-hander Jarred Cosart in the opener at Minute Maid Park. He's 1-2 with 6.12 ERA, but those numbers are skewed by a rough outing on April 18 in Oakland in which he allowed seven earned runs in one-third of an inning. Cosart bounced back Wednesday against Oakland, allowing only two runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. Cosart was in line to get the win, but the bullpen allowed three runs in the ninth in a 5-3 loss.

"The whole purpose was to go out there and establish the strike zone," said Cosart, who threw only 15 of 39 pitches for strikes April 18, and 73 strikes in 104 pitches on Wednesday.

"I quickened up my tempo a little bit and was able to throw strikes early in the count. I threw a lot of strikes, and I'll be able to take that going forward."

Nationals: Rendon going home
Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon will play in Houston for the first time since he became a big leaguer last season. Rendon made his name at Rice University, where he hit .371 with 52 home runs and 194 RBIs in his collegiate career.

As a professional, Rendon is having similar success. He is hitting .298 with three home runs and a team-leading 17 RBIs entering Tuesday's action against the Astros.

Astros: Porter facing the Nationals
Bo Porter will face the Nationals for the first time since becoming the Astros' manager before the 2013 season. Porter was the Nationals' third-base coach in 2011-12, which included when the club won the National League East title.

Last season, Porter guided the Astros to a 51-111 record in his first year as manager. He is hoping things will be different this year. However, they have a 9-17 record entering Tuesday.

Worth noting
• Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler enters the series on an eight-game hitting streak following a first-inning single Sunday against Oakland.

• The Astros entered Sunday ranked fourth in the American League with 28 homers. They were 8-7 in games in which they homered, and had yet to win a game in which they didn't.

• Nats shortstop Ian Desmond is 7-for-13 in his last three games to raise his overall batting average to .243.

• Despite allowing three runs against the Padres on Sunday, left-hander Ross Detwiler has an excellent 1.98 ERA.

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