WASHINGTON -- The most frustrating thing for Astros starter Kyle Weiland on Monday wasn't that his teammates had just tied the game in the top of the inning with an elusive bases-loaded hit, or that Nationals second baseman Steve Lombardozzi got the game-winning hit with a blooper.
Weiland, knowing there was little room for error while facing Washington starter Stephen Strasburg, was kicking himself over the two consecutive two-out walks he issued in the sixth inning that loaded the bases and put Lombardozzi in position to erase the good work done by the Astros' bats against Strasburg.
Moments after Chris Johnson's two-run, two-out single off Strasburg broke the Astros' 0-for-13 funk with the bases loaded and tied the game, the Nationals pushed across four runs in the bottom of the sixth and cruised to a 6-3 win at Nationals Park.
"With two outs and a runner on first base, you can't go up there and walk two guys," Weiland said. "I know one was a pinch-hitter, but you still have to attack him. You can't be afraid to hit more of the white and not try to hit the corners."
Weiland (0-2) allowed 10 hits, six runs and four walks in 5 2/3 innings, but entered the sixth locked in a 2-2 game with Strasburg. The Astros had some good at-bats against the former No. 1 overall pick, and forced him from the game in the sixth after 93 pitches.
"He's got really good stuff and throws really hard, and has three really good pitches," said Johnson, who went 3-for-4 and drove in all three of the Astros' runs. "He's tough, and you're always battling against him. He did a good job tonight."
Strasburg (2-0) was carrying a shutout into the sixth when Jordan Schafer and Jed Lowrie began the inning with consecutive singles. J.D. Martinez fought back from down 0-2 in the count to draw a walk and load the bases with no outs. Strasburg got Carlos Lee to fly out, and struck out Travis Buck, extending the Astros' bases-loaded futility to start the year.
But Johnson reached down and sent a low fastball into right-center for Houston's first hit of the season with the bases loaded, scoring two runs to tie the game.
"It's hard, but I've had a couple at-bats this year with the bases loaded [that] I've tried to do too much, and it really hasn't worked," Johnson said. "I just kind of tried to be as relaxed as I could tonight. The other guy is pretty good on the mound, so I tried to get good wood on it, and it fell in."
Weiland couldn't stand the prosperity.
With two outs and a runner at first base in the bottom of the inning, he walked pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina and shortstop Ian Desmond to load the bases for Lombardozzi, who hit a cue ball down the left-field line to score a pair. Ryan Zimmerman followed with a two-run single to make it 6-2.
"I was really frustrated," Weiland said. "It seemed I got back on track with my mechanics and I was pounding the zone a lot more in this game. I put myself in that situation with the two walks. I got away from what I had been doing the whole game, and walked two guys and put them in a situation they could have a big inning like that. Especially after we had just tied it up, that's the last thing you want to do for the guys behind you."
Lombardozzi, the son of the former Astros infielder by the same name, went 4-for-5 with a run scored.
"He is a good player," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He had a heck of a night."
Weiland hasn't been as sharp as he was in Spring Training when he won a spot in the rotation, but manager Brad Mills says the numbers -- 18 hits and 10 earned runs allowed in 10 2/3 innings in two starts -- aren't indicative of how well he's pitched.
"He's thrown the ball really well," Mills said. "Look what he was able to do up until that sixth inning. Those two walks set up those two hits, and he made a good 1-2 pitch to Lombardozzi, who was able to get enough on it to drop it in."
The Astros again struggled with runners in scoring position by going 2-for-14, with Johnson's bases-loaded hit in the sixth and his RBI triple in the eighth accounting for the only hits in those situations. Buck, who had two hits while starting in right field, believes the team just needs to keep plugging away.
"We've just got to keep on doing it," he said. "It's going to happen. We're not just a team that when we get down, we fold. It shows a lot of resiliency and heart in this team that we always seem to put up some runs [late] or get to their closer or something, where no lead is safe. It shows a lot about this team. Even though we're young, we continue to scrap away."