WASHINGTON (AP) - Wandy Rodriguez had another good start for the Houston Astros, and ended up with another loss to show for it.
Two bloop hits accounted for the only run the Houston Astros starter allowed over seven innings. Facing an equally dominating performance by Washington Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, the Astros' struggling lineup could not come up with any response in a 1-0 loss Tuesday night.
Rodriguez (0-2) allowed five hits, no walks and struck out three over seven innings. The left-hander lowered his ERA to 1.96.
``It's hard because I felt I threw a good game,' Rodriguez said. ``Lose that kind of game, it's hard for me, for the team too.'
Gonzalez kept the Astros hitters off-balance throughout, rarely letting a ball out of the infield. Houston batters failed to take advantage of their chances against Gonzalez - or when Washington closer Brad Lidge put two on to open the ninth.
The latest defeat was the Astros' third straight and sixth in seven games.
Justin Maxwell singled to open the game, but that was just one of two hits the Astros cobbled together against Gonzalez and four overall. Gonzalez (1-0) walked two and struck out eight in his third start for Washington.
``For a guy that throws 92, 95 mph fastballs, he mixed in a lot of off-speed pitches, threw a lot of off speed pitches for strikes,' Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie said. ``He kept everybody off balance.'
Lowrie opened the ninth with a double against Lidge, the second time a Houston runner reached scoring position. J. D. Martinez followed with a walk, but Carlos Lee and Chris Johnson flied out and Travis Buck grounded out to first to end the game.
The Astros finished 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and the No. 4 through 6 batters were hitless in 12 at_bats.
``We've got to stay with our aggressive mindset but look for balls in a certain area in the zone and look to hit the ball hard someplace,' Astros manager Brad Mills said. ``We can't guide it.'
The surging Nationals eked out their run in the fourth, starting with a Jayson Werth's shallow pop fly between Maxwell in center field and Martinez in left. Maxwell attempted a sliding catch but the ball dropped for a double.
Adam LaRoche followed with a fly to left and Martinez came in as shortstop Jed Lowrie ran out. Lowrie appeared to lose track of the ball at the last moment and it fell for an RBI single.
``It's a play that's got to be made,' said Lowrie. ``It's the first time a pop-up like that has happened with J.D. and I out there. Our communication wasn't good. We talked about it and it won't happen again.'
Jose Altuve singled up the middle to start the Houston sixth and moved up on a sacrifice by Rodriguez. Altuve later advanced to third on a wild pitch and Lowrie walked, but Gonzalez got out of the jam on Martinez's groundout.
NOTES: Maxwell started in place of Jordan Schafer, who has been ill with a cold, Astros manager Brad Mills said. ``That kind of wore him down a little bit and we want to get his strength back,' Mills said. Schafer pinch-hit in the eighth and got a bunt single. ... Houston RHP Lucas Harrell (1-0, 3.27 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann (0-1, 1.29 ERA) on Wednesday night.
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