WASHINGTON (AP) - Stephen Strasburg lasted only three innings for the Nationals. Henry Sosa couldn't even make it that far for Houston.
Sosa gave up three straight homers to start the third and the Astros lost 8-2 to Washington on Sunday.
Making his seventh major league start, Sosa (2-4) allowed five runs and seven hits in 2 2-3 innings - the first time he has failed go at least five innings.
``He's pitched pretty well but he's had that one inning, whether it's been two runs, three runs,' Houston manager Brad Mills said. ``It's been one inning they've been able to get their runs, and today it was the third inning.'
The Astros (49-97) tied the franchise mark for most losses in a season. They have lost 97 games three times, most recently in 1991.
Ian Desmond, Rick Ankiel and Ryan Zimmerman all went deep off Sosa to start the third inning. It was the first time Houston had allowed three straight home runs since July 11, 2009, against Washington.
``On the first one I tried to throw a slider for a strike but they got it really good,' Sosa said. ``On the next two I missed my (spot). I wanted to throw it a little down but I got it a little high. But I'll try to remember that for the next start.'
After Sosa got two outs, Danny Espinosa doubled and Chris Marrero followed with another double to drive in the fourth run of the inning. After Sosa issued a walk to Wilson Ramos, his day was over.
``His ball seemed to flatten out and he didn't have the location that he wanted on those pitches,' Mills said. ``When they flatten out and they're in the zone, you're going to get hit.'
The Astros got the better of Strasburg in the first inning. Making his second major league start since undergoing Tommy John surgery, he needed 31 pitches to get out of the first inning, including nine to leadoff batter Jordan Schafer before striking him out.
Strasburg went to a full count on the first three batters, although he struck out two of them. The other, No. 2 hitter Jimmy Paredes, singled on a grounder up the middle that went through Strasburg's legs and bounced off second base. The fourth batter, Carlos Lee, singled on a 2-2 fastball to score Paredes.
``We got that pitch count up to 31 in the first inning and were able to get that run,' Mills said. ``Doing that was the approach that we were trying to do. The guys did a good job with it.'
Tom Gorzelanny (3-6) followed Strasburg and pitched three scoreless innings, giving up one hit.
The Astros didn't score again until Matt Downs singled in the ninth and scored on a throwing error by Zimmerman at third base.
``It was just one of those nights,' said Houston outfielder J.D. Martinez, who was 0 for 3.
Zimmerman blooped an RBI single in the sixth to extend the lead to 6-1, and Washington added a pair of runs in the seventh. Lance Pendleton hit Marrero and Wilson Ramos with pitches on successive at_bats, and both scored on RBI singles by Laynce Nix and Desmond.
To mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Washington wore special blue jerseys with a stars-and-stripes background for the team's 'W' logo. Two red, blue and white logos were painted on the field in foul territory along the base lines, with the date ``September 11, 2001' and the words: ``We shall not forget.'
NOTES: Espinosa snapped an 0-for-15 slump with a double in the second inning. He was 2 for 4 with two doubles. ... Houston purchased the contract of LHP Xavier Cedeno from Triple-A Oklahoma City and placed LHP Sergio Escalona on the 60-day disabled list. Cedeno flew from Puerto Rico to join the team in Washington, although his luggage and equipment didn't arrive with him. ``We'll get him some shoes and a glove and go from there,' Mills said before the game. ... Houston hosts Philadelphia on Monday. RHP Brett Myers (4-13) faces Phillies RHP Roy Oswalt (7-8) in a matchup of pitchers going against their former teams.
The Associated Press News Service
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