Strasburg lasts 3 innings, Nationals rout Astros 8-2

Stephen Strasburg pitches to an Astro, Sunday.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Stephen Strasburg allowed one run over three innings in his second start back from Tommy John surgery, and the Washington Nationals hit three consecutive home runs in an 8-2 win against the Houston Astros on Sunday.

Strasburg didn't display the same efficiency he did in his return Tuesday.

The right-hander needed 31 pitches to get out of the first inning, although he settled down and finished with six straight outs. He allowed three hits and struck out four in his 57-pitch outing.

Ian Desmond, Rick Ankiel and Ryan Zimmerman all went deep off Houston starter Henry Sosa (2-4) to start the Nationals' 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.

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."

Tom Gorzelanny (3-6) followed Strasburg and pitched three scoreless innings, giving up one hit.

Strasburg's pitch count was almost exactly the same as it was in his first start back, when he threw 56 pitches over five scoreless innings and struck out four against the Dodgers. It was clear from the start Sunday he wasn't going to cruise through the Astros' lineup the same way - he needed nine pitches to strike out leadoff batter Jordan Schafer.

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.

Chris Marrero's sacrifice fly in the second tied the game, and the Nationals took the lead with three consecutive homers in the third. It was the first time the Nationals had hit back-to-back-to-back home runs since July 11, 2009, at Houston. That was also the last time the Astros had allowed three straight homers.

The Nationals added their fourth run of the inning on Marrero's RBI double.
Sosa, making his seventh major league start, allowed five runs and seven hits in 2 2-3 innings, the first time he has failed go at least five innings.

Zimmerman hit an RBI bloop single in the sixth inning 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.

The Astros scored in the ninth inning on a throwing error by Zimmerman at third base.

NOTES: Nationals 2B Danny 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," manager Brad Mills said before the game. ... The Nationals start a four-game series at the New York Mets on Monday. LHP Ross Detwiler (2-5) will start for Washington against RHP R.A. Dickey (8-11). ... 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.