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WSH@HOU: Lyles strikes out six over seven strong

HOUSTON -- On Monday night, the Astros were a hit away from picking up their first walk-off victory of the season. On Tuesday night, a ball flying a few inches the other way also could've given the Astros a walk-off win.

With runners on first and second in the bottom of the 12th inning and the Astros trailing by a run, Brett Wallace sent a deep line drive to left-center field. Nationals center fielder Roger Bernadina, sprinting the whole way, made a stellar leaping catch to send the Astros to a crushing 3-2 loss at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros are now 0-11 in extra innings and haven't scored in extras this season.

"He went flying into the screen," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "It seemed like the ball was hooking. If it could have been a foot to the left where it would have gone off the signage there, that would have been absolutely outstanding, too."

Catcher Carlos Corporan, who drew a two-out walk after Steve Pearce singled to lead off the 12th, was racing around second base and probably would've scored if the ball hopped off the wall past Bernadina.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson called Bernadina's catch "sensational."

The Nationals took the lead in the top of the 12th behind Danny Espinosa's RBI dribbler up the middle off reliever Mickey Storey with a drawn-in infield. It was Espinosa's third RBI of the evening -- he also hit a two-run homer in the second inning.

The Astros had a few chances to plate the winning run late in the game.

In the ninth inning, Houston rallied off reliever Ryan Mattheus, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic grounded out to first to send the game to extras.

Chris Snyder walked to open the Astros' 10th and exited for pinch-runner Lucas Harrell, but Wallace struck out and Jose Altuve bounced into a 4-6-3 double play.

The 11th was quiet -- after the Nationals went down in order, the Astros followed suit.

Wallace said the team wouldn't focus on its lack of success in extra innings this season or its inability to come up with a timely hit in recent games.

"I think the biggest thing is we have to build off these games," Wallace said. "We might not be getting wins, but we've shown a lot coming back against this team."

Starter Jordan Lyles certainly provided an outing to build off.

Shaky in recent outings, the right-hander pitched well, tossing seven innings and allowing three hits. He struck out six and walked three, throwing 115 pitches.

He said he felt good on the mound but also suggested he might need to continue working on his new delivery out of the stretch. After Lyles issued a two-out walk, Espinosa hit the first pitch he saw from Lyles out of the stretch 408 feet to the upper deck in right field.

"We've got to work on it, get better from it," said Lyles, 21. "But tonight, luckily I didn't have too many guys on base."

The Astros bullpen was strong in support of Lyles, tossing five innings and allowing just the one run in the 12th. Relievers Wesley Wright, Fernando Martinez, Wilton Lopez and Storey struck out seven batters and allowed three hits.

Ben Francisco hit a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Astros an early 2-0 lead. Francisco is now 6-for-11 with three homers against Nationals starter Ross Detwiler, who, like Lyles, gave up three hits over seven innings.

Mills lingered on the field after the game a bit longer than usual, making sure his players knew that their effort was recognized.

"It was really fun in the dugout, the guys were pulling for one another," Mills said. "Not that they haven't, but they do. These guys are great about that, but the atmosphere was nice and the way we saw some at-bats coming through and I wanted to let them know I appreciate that."

Lyles said he and his teammates can't really figure out why they can't get a break to fall their way.

"That was a great catch by Bernadina to end the game," Lyles said. "It's a rough stretch for us, this whole second half and earlier, past the first two months. Like I said before, we'll get over it, we'll learn from it. We're a young team and we'll bounce back and be stronger."

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