WASHINGTON -- The Nationals had two bad innings on Thursday night, and it proved to be costly as they were pounded by the Astros, 11-4, at Nationals Park.
Right-hander Edwin Jackson started for Washington and his outing was the antithesis of his previous start last Saturday, when he pitched a complete game two-hitter against the Reds. On Thursday night, Jackson pitched five innings and allowed five runs on seven hits.
All five runs came in the first inning. Jose Altuve, Brain Bogusevic and Matt Downs highlighted the rally with RBI triples. It was the first time in Astros history they had three triples in one inning.
"We were talking about it in the dugout and everybody said they had never seen it," Bogusevic said.
That turned out to be Jackson's only bad inning, as he retired 14 out of the final 15 hitters he faced.
"[Jackson] was throwing all right, but his location was pretty much down the middle," manager Davey Johnson said. "In the first inning, I thought he was a little under the weather, but he turned up a notch [after that]. He was unhittable the rest of the way."
Jackson said he was fine -- health wise. He simply wasn't able to execute his pitches.
"The first inning was just a matter of making a couple of pitches," Jackson said. "I put myself in some good positions to make pitches to get out of the inning. I just didn't execute them. I felt I was throwing strikes. It's part of the game. I felt good. I just left a few balls up. I had a chance to put people away and I didn't."
Jackson's performance after the first inning helped the Nationals momentarily get within a run of tying the score against right-hander Bud Norris.
In the second inning, Wilson Ramos singled to left, scoring Adam LaRoche. An inning later, Ryan Zimmerman made it a 5-4 game by hitting a three-run homer over the left-center field wall. It was Zimmerman's first homer of the season.
"We battled back. It just wasn't our night," Zimmerman said. "They hit the ball well. They kept tacking on runs. ... You can't win every game."
Left-hander Tom Gorzolanny entered the game for Washington in the sixth inning and was hit hard as Houston scored five runs. Norris and Altuve had the big hits. Norris had a two-run single, while Altuve had a two-run double.
"I made bad pitches, I made good pitches. The balls got hit," Gorzelanny said. "When you give up six runs in a game, it's a difficult pill to swallow. It doesn't matter what the score is. You gave up runs. You are still losing. It's tough trying to keep us in the game. It didn't happened."
Gorzelanny was still on the mound when Downs scored the final run of the game on a single by Jason Castro in the seventh inning.
"I think today we did a lot of things we haven't been doing in some of the games we've lost," Bogusevic said. "We got hits with men in scoring position, bases-loaded hits and those are the kind of things that turn a one- or two-run inning into a big inning."
Johnson acknowledged that Gorzelanny had to take one for the team, as the skipper didn't want to overtax the bullpen. He is saving them for the Marlins series this weekend.
"[Gorzelanny] looked the same to me," Johnson said. "He threw some pretty good pitches and they hit them pretty hard. It wasn't a usual Gorzelanny outing. But it's one of those things.
"This is a case where Gorzo has to hold them. The bullpen has been pretty taxed pretty much all year. It wasn't the case I was going throw the kitchen sink at them to try and win that ballgame. I want to go into the division series against Miami without an overburden pen. Gorzo has to take it on the chin. That happens in this game."
With the loss, the Nationals snapped their three-game winning streak and dropped their record to 10-4.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.