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Nationals 6, Astros 5: Houston gets swept as 'pen blows late lead

The 'Stros bullpen evoked the 2013 season by blowing a two-run lead in the seventh, resulting in another two-game sweep at the hands of the Washington Nationals.

Jonathan Singleton is tagged out by Ian Desmond as he attempts to steal second base.
Jonathan Singleton is tagged out by Ian Desmond as he attempts to steal second base.
Mitchell Layton

Despite a gritty start by Scott Feldman, the Astros lost their second-straight 6-5 game against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday. Darin Downs got pinned for the loss, though Josh Zeid gave up three costly runs, and the lead, over one-plus innings. For Houston, the loss marked another two-game sweep to D.C. this season.

By the third inning, the Nats had jumped to a 2-0 lead. In the first, Adam LaRoche lifted a sac fly scoring Denard Span, who earlier in the inning stole second base on a call that was confirmed via review. Shortstop Ian Desmond followed with an RBI single in the third, knocking in Jayson Werth.

Those two runs would be all Washington could muster, though, against Scott Feldman. The tall righty battled through an even five innings, throwing 103 pitches. Feldman's pitch-count would suggest that he struggled to strike out batters, but he racked up five Ks on the night, a good sign for him going forward.

The Astros' offense came to life in the fourth. In it the team scored four runs off Nats starter Gio Gonzalez. Matt Dominguez drove in two with a bases-loaded single. His hit would be followed by an RBI double from Jason Castro and a sac fly from Jonathan Villar.

In the bottom of the sixth, though, the wheels wobbled off. Coming in to relieve Feldman, Zeid promptly surrendered a bunt single to second baseman Danny Espinoza and then, two outs later, an RBI double to Denard Span. The damage may have continued there had Span not been thrown out trying to advance to third.

In the seventh, Robbie Grossman would nab Houston another run by scoring on a wild pitch by Ross Detwiler. The Astros eventually loaded the bases in the inning, but Matt Dominguez ended the potential rally by grounding out weakly to shortstop.

With the score at 5-3, Zeid went to the mound for his second inning of work. On his first pitch back, he surrendered a solo blast to Rice product Anthony Rendon, who continues to be a pest for Houston pitchers. He then walked Werth before being pulled for Downs, who failed to stop the bleeding.

Facing his only batter of the game, Downs surrendered a bloop single to Adam LaRoche, a hit that advanced Werth to third. Bo Porter promptly pulled him in favor of Kyle Farnsworth, who then allowed an RBI groundout to Ryan Zimmerman, a double to Ian Desmond, and a go-ahead sac fly by Nate McClouth. McClouth's RBI, charged to Downs, would be the final run of the game.

Over the final two frames, the Astros offense would fall silent against Nats relievers Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano. The team's only baserunner came on a two-out, ninth-inning single by Jose Altuve, who finished the night 2-4. He would be stranded as George Springer ended the game by striking out against Soriano.

Up next, the Astros will aim to break their three-game losing streak in Tampa Bay, where tomorrow they start a four-game set at 6:10 C.S.T. The contest will see a rematch between Collin McHugh and Rays starter Chris Archer. The former beat the latter last Saturday as Archer gave up six runs (one earned) over three innings in Houston. McHugh, who that day surrendered four runs over five frames, will look to rebound as well.



--By losing on Wednesday, the Astros were swept in their season series against the Nationals, going 0-4 in their contests.

--With his performance, Anthony Rendon raised his career slash-line against Houston to .438/.471/.875. That number, of course, comes in just 17 plate appearances. Nonetheless, since Rendon hails from Houston, his stats against his hometown club--like those of Chris Young and James Loney--make one think they are more than just noise.

--Houston left seven runners on base and went 3-9 with men in scoring position.