More than three months ago in Milwaukee, Jayson Werth caused a stir when he said things had to change.
He still thinks many of the issues remain.
In the 11th inning on Friday night, Werth hit a bouncer to third base that looked perfect for an inning-ending double play. Instead Houston's Jimmy Paredes, inserted in the game in the top of the inning, threw wildly to second base, enabling Ryan Zimmerman to score and give the Nationals a 4-3 win over the Astros.
Washington had lost 12 of 15. Werth said that the recent stretch hadn't been all that troubling.
"No more difficult than the rest of the year. For whatever reason, I mentioned in Milwaukee that things need to change. I kind of got into trouble for saying that," Werth said. "Here we are — many months later — and we still have to drive in runs. Essentially, things still need to change."
"You can't say that without saying what you mean — I guess. I guess I mean we still have to get the big hit and win the ballgames — however you can win them," Werth said.
With one out in the 11th, Lucas Harrell (0-1) walked Zimmerman and Michael Morse. Wilton Lopez replaced Harrell. Werth hit a bouncer to Paredes, who pinch-ran in the top of the 11th and remained in the game at third base. Paredes overthrew second baseman Jose Altuve and Zimmerman scored. Werth was credited with a single.
"I knew it was a potential double play," Werth said. "I was running hard out of the box. I kind of looked at second and didn't see the ball there. I kept looking, saw it going in the outfield — and that was that."
Tyler Clippard (3-0), Washington's fifth pitcher, worked two scoreless innings for the win.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson would like a lot more offense from his team than he's been seeing. In its four most recent wins, Washington scored 28 runs. In its 12 losses, they scored just 29.
"It's been tough. I ain't kidding you," Johnson said. "I have trouble sleeping at night. It makes it tough on the pitching staff — tough on the defense."
The Astros have dropped six of seven and are now just four losses away from their first 100-loss season. Houston is one of three teams — Colorado and the Los Angeles Angels are the others — never to lose 100, according to STATS LLC.
Houston manager Brad Mills defended putting Paredes in the game.
"It's really tough to teach these situations without putting them through it," Mills said. The Astros have 15 rookies on their roster.
Zimmerman's two-run home run in the bottom of the first off Bud Norris gave Washington a 2-0 lead. It was Zimmerman's 11th.
The Astros scored off Tommy Milone in the top of the third on Clint Barmes' double, an infield out and a sacrifice fly by Norris.
Houston tied the game when Chris Johnson's sacrifice fly scored Altuve in the fourth.
The Astros took a 3-2 lead in the sixth on Carlos Lee's leadoff double and a two-out RBI single by Barmes. Milone left after the single. He pitched 5 2-3 innings, allowing three runs and eight hits. In his second start, Milone struck out three and hit a batter. In his 10 major league innings, he's yet to walk a batter.
In the Nationals' seventh, Danny Espinosa walked with one out. He took third on a wild pickoff throw by Norris and scored the tying run on Chris Marrero's single.
Norris pitched seven innings, allowing three runs — two earned. He struck out four and walked two. Norris has won just once in his last 11 starts.
NOTES: Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg will start on Sunday on four days' rest. His next two starts will be on five days rest, Johnson said. If he makes a fifth start, it would be on four days' rest on Sep. 28 in Florida. Johnson says this schedule will maximize the number of innings Strasburg can throw next season. ... Nationals OF Roger Bernadina is unable to hit and throw due to a cut on his left hand. He pinch-ran in the 10th. ... Washington OF Laynce Nix is limited to pinch-hitting duties with a strained right groin sustained on Sep. 1. He fouled out in the seventh inning. ... Houston LHP Sergio Escalona sprained his left ankle when he tripped on a glove in left field during batting practice. He will be reevaluated in Houston on Monday, but the ankle was swollen after the game and Escalona said he didn't think he'd pitch again this season. ... The Astros claimed RHP Lance Pendleton on waivers from the New York Yankees. Pendleton will join the club on Saturday and be used out of the bullpen, Mills said. ... LHP Wandy Rodriguez (10-10) will start for Houston on Saturday against LHP John Lannan (9-11). Rodriguez is 4-1 with a 4.98 ERA in eight starts against the Nationals.