HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astros made several moves to improve their bullpen this offseason after it blew a MLB-leading 29 saves last year.
So far the revamped group hasn't helped the Astros hold leads any better than it did in 2013.
Adam LaRoche hit a tying double in the eighth inning and a go-ahead single in the ninth Tuesday night to lift the Washington Nationals over the Astros 4-3.
It was the sixth time this season Houston has blown a save.
"It's very concerning, because our starting pitcher did a very good job," manager Bo Porter said. "You feel like you are in position to win the game, you have the right guys matched up, and you just don't get it done."
Jayson Werth homered as the Nationals won the opener of the interleague series.
Denard Span drew a leadoff walk in the ninth, stole second and advanced to third on a groundout. He scored on LaRoche's hit to right field off Josh Fields (0-3).
Fields threw six straight balls when he entered the game before managing a strike.
"It was just command," Porter said. "If you look at the walks that is pretty much what hurt us. There's no defense for walks. You don't get a chance to defend the baseball."
Tyler Clippard (2-2) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win. Rafael Soriano walked two in a scoreless ninth for his fifth save.
Werth connected in the first for his fourth home run. Houston scored three times in the third for a 3-2 lead, helped by rookie George Springer's two-run single.
Werth singled to start the eighth and scored on LaRoche's double to left-center field. Center fielder Dexter Fowler tracked the ball to the wall, but it glanced off his glove as he crashed to the ground.
The Nationals went on to load the bases before Chad Qualls struck out Jose Lobaton.
Washington starter Gio Gonzalez allowed five hits and three runs, striking out a season-high nine in six innings.
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