It had been 11 days since the Washington Nationals played in their own stadium, long enough for them to coalesce into the team they imagined they would be, and long enough for them to fall into an offensive slump. Summer welcomed them home Tuesday night. Players’ legs started feeling heavy in batting practice, hours before the game started. It was 92 degrees when Tanner Roark fired the first pitch at Nationals Park. The park filled with the kind of sticky, lazy air you need to chew before you can breathe.

The heat provided another reminder that now, in the thick of the season, is no time for a ragged series to turn into a bad week. In their 6-5 victory over the Houston Astros, the Nationals shed the effects of their ruinous weekend sweep in St. Louis, but only after surviving setup reliever Tyler Clippard’s four-run eighth inning.

Once Rafael Soriano converted his 14th save, the Nationals could exhale. They had snapped a four-game losing streak, and they could turn to the standings if they wanted another reason to celebrate. As the Atlanta Braves lost in Philadelphia, the Nationals seized back first place in the National League East, leaping over Atlanta by half a game.

“We struggled a little bit in St. Louis,” third baseman Anthony Rendon said. “We got over that hump and got a couple runs tonight.”

Ryan Zimmerman and Rendon led the Nationals’ nine-hit attack against emerging left-hander Dallas Keuchel and the Astros’ bullpen with two RBI doubles apiece. Roark tied Stephen Strasburg for the team lead in wins with six by limiting damage for five innings, grinding without his best stuff. Craig Stammen and Drew Storen held the Astros at bay into the eighth, before Clippard added unwanted drama.