The Nationals had a runner in scoring position in the first six innings but scored just once and lost 4-1 to the Houston Astros, who faced a nearly must-win game and now trail the series 2-1. Washington had won its previous eight playoffs contests this month and will look to take a 3-1 series lead in Game 4 on Saturday at 8:07 p.m. The Nationals left 12 on base.
Robinson Chirinos, the Houston catcher, hit a solo homer off Washington starter and loser Aníbal Sánchez to give the Astros a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning.
Sánchez, who had not pitched in two weeks, went 5 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on 10 hits before Fernando Rodney took over in the sixth.
Washington left two runners on base in the sixth, went down in order in the seventh, left a runner on base in the eighth and went down in the ninth against Houston reliever Roberto Osuna.
The closer was suspended last year in a domestic abuse case and was booed heavily when his name was announced, but retired Juan Soto for the last out on strikes with Adam Eaton on base after a single.
The Astros, who hit the ball hard all night against Sánchez, took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI single by Josh Reddick to score Carlos Correa, who had doubled with one out.
Houston made it 2-0 in the third as José Altuve led off with a double and took third on an error by left fielder Soto.
Altuve then scored on a single by Michael Brantley.
Victor Robles had an RBI triple down the left-field line as the Nationals trimmed the lead to 2-1 against Houston starter Zack Greinke. His hit scored veteran Ryan Zimmerman, who walked with no outs in his first World Series home game in a career that began in 2005.
Houston took a 3-1 lead in the fifth as Altuve doubled and scored on a single by Michael Brantley.
Washington catcher Kurt Suzuki had to leave the game in the sixth after he was nicked by a pitch on defense. Yan Gomes came on to catch for the Nationals, who have just two catchers on the World Series roster.
Washington will turn to veteran lefty Patrick Corbin, who will make the start Saturday in the very environment he wanted when he signed as a free agent before this season. Corbin has been used out of the bullpen as well in the playoffs.
“This time worked out pretty well for us being able to throw Game 1 and then having three full days off,” he said Friday. “So I was able to do the same routine, everything that I would have done.”
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