HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros nickle-and-dimed reliever Todd Coffey for the second straight game to hand the Nationals a 3-2 loss in 11 innings on Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.Coffey gave up a bloop single to catcher Humberto Quintero, who was sacrificed to second and advanced to third on Michael Bourn's single, then scored the winning run on pinch-hitter Jason Michaels' single to center. There wasn't a hard hit ball among the three singles Coffey (3-1) allowed in the inning. "The bottom line is they got hits, what they need to do to win the game, and I blew it for us," Coffey said. "That's two nights in a row I've really let the team down. It fell on me and I didn't get the job done." Coffey did not take the loss on Tuesday night, but did give up Houston's final run in the sixth inning of an eventual 7-6 loss. "It falls on my shoulders," he said. "Trust me, no one feels as bad as I do." There were runners on first and third when Michaels stepped up to pinch-hit on Wednesday. "I threw a sinker down and away," Coffey said. "I need a strikeout or ground out there. I figured he would hit it toward second. He did, but just elevated it [into center field]. I haven't looked at the video yet. From my perspective out there I thought it was a good pitch. Any pitch that's hit is a bad pitch." "I've faced him a couple times and haven't been successful," Michaels said of Coffey. "I was able to just get enough on it. I just wanted to put it in play." Coffey said he felt good on the mound. "I felt like my stuff was there," he said. "I felt like the stuff was there last night and it was there tonight. I'm going to continue to go out there and attack the zone." Starter Livan Hernandez limited Houston to seven hits and two runs through six innings and relievers Henry Rodriguez, Tyler Clippard and Ryan Mattheus shut down the Astros for the next four innings. "He made quality pitches and kept us in the ballgame through the heart of the lineup," manager Davey Johnson said of Hernandez. Clippard was exceptional with runners in scoring position. After Rodriguez walked the first two hitters in the eighth, Clippard kept the Astros off the board with some clutch pitching. He allowed two runners in the ninth, but retired Carlos Lee on a fly ball to end the inning. "He came in two guys on, nobody out and the tough part of the lineup and did a great job," Johnson said of Clippard. "He got in a little trouble the next inning and got out of that."
"It's tough in a situation like that," Clippard said. "You try to limit the damage. I made a good pitch to [Clint] Barmes to make him pop out in the infield [with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth]. I was able to pound the zone and put my fastball where I wanted to."Clippard gave up one hit and struck out three in his two innings, throwing 37 pitches. "Clip did a great job, Mattheus did a great job, everybody did an outstanding job and I dropped the ball for us," Coffey said. The Nationals scored their only runs on Jayson Werth's two-run homer in the sixth that tied the game. It was Werth's 11th homer of the season, but his first since June 16 vs. St. Louis and only his second and third RBIs in the last 10 games.Werth added another double in the 11th, but never made it to third base. "I've seen really good signs for about a week," Johnson said of Werth. "He's started to feel a little better. He was a lot more aggressive today. He hit a couple of first-pitch fastballs, which he hadn't done. He's probably leading the league in pitches taken. But it's good to see him get aggressive out there." "The biggest thing is he's starting to feel really comfortable in the box," hitting coach Rick Eckstein said of Werth. "Today was an example of the power he has. He's a situational hitter." Werth, who raised his average to .218, didn't want to talk about his hitting. But he did identify one of Washington's biggest problems. "It seems like all [the one-run games] we lose, we don't match up," he said. "We hit when we don't pitch and we don't hit when we do pitch." The Nationals failed to take advantage of playing the team with the worst record in baseball, losing two straight by one run after winning Monday night. "We're coming along," Johnson said. "But I wanted to win two out of three here for sure." Washington, which heads to Los Angeles for a three-game set against the Dodgers, is 2-4 on the road trip that began with three games in Atlanta.
Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.