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HOU@WSH: Gonzalez fans eight through seven scoreless

After receiving a crash course on one of the best pitching staffs in baseball in his first two games behind the plate for the Nationals, Kurt Suzuki will see a familiar sight on the mound Wednesday, when he figures to return to the lineup against the Astros.

Suzuki sat in Tuesday's 3-2 Washington win that took 12 innings after catching 11 innings the night before, but he will likely be back behind the plate to catch former Oakland teammate Gio Gonzalez in the third leg of a four-game set in Houston.

"He's getting a crash course on the staff, and the two games he's caught, I think he's seen about everybody in the 'pen," said Washington manager Davey Johnson before putting Jesus Flores behind the plate Tuesday. "I'm just letting him catch his breath."

Gonzalez faces the Astros for the second time of his career after holding them scoreless over seven innings in his third start with Washington earlier this season. Astros starter Armando Galarraga also faces an unfamiliar opponent.

The 30-year-old Galarraga made two starts with Houston this season after he signed a Minor League contract in the offseason, going 0-1 and allowing six earned runs in a combined 10 1/3 innings against the Pirates and Braves.

The Astros continue to work with him after promoting him from Triple-A Oklahoma City, even though he had 86 big league starts under his belt before joining the Astros, including a near-perfect game in 2010 with Detroit.

"We've worked with him on some things and [pitching coach Doug Brocail] has done some things with him," said manager Brad Mills. "We've talked about other things, like speeding up and getting movement on his pitches, and keep the game in a flow. That's more of what we're concerned with more than anything else."

Washington: Werth singles in pinch-hit at-bat
Johnson used caution in keeping Jayson Werth out of the Nationals' lineup a day after Werth left the game with soreness in his legs, but he used Werth as a pinch-hitter to lead off the eighth inning and was rewarded with a single. Steve Lombardozzi, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman stranded Werth there as they played into extra innings at Minute Maid Park for the second time in as many nights.

Werth arrived at the ballpark Tuesday claiming he felt much better than he did the night before, when he began to feel tightness and fatigue in his legs around the sixth inning. Neither Werth nor Johnson seemed overly concerned, as Werth played every day since returning from missing 75 games on the disabled list.

"His legs just aren't under him yet," Johnson said. "I knew I was going to have to be careful with him coming back because he's all-in. The way he plays, he's all-in. Just give him a chance to catch his breath."

Houston: Barnes goes hitless in debut
Brandon Barnes went 0-for-3 in his Major League debut with his wife, daughter, parents and friends in attendance Tuesday, when the Astros promoted him from Triple-A Oklahoma City to replace an injured Jordan Schafer in center field.

Houston placed Schafer of the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder separation at the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, which means the collar bone is separated from the shoulder blade.

It gives Barnes his first shot in the big leagues after the Astros drafted him in the sixth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft out of Cypress College (Calif.). He is a career .261 hitter in eight Minor League seasons, but started the year hitting .317 with Double-A Corpus Christi, then hit .323 after a promotion to Oklahoma City.

"There were a couple points in my career when I just wanted to shut it down," said the 26-year-old, who cried when Triple-A manager Tony DeFrancesco told him of his promotion. "I felt like this might not be the game for me. It was tough. I just kept going. My wife pushed me, my family pushed me and told me I can do it. I kind of just got back on the horse and kept going on the grind. Hard work pays off and it finally has for me."

Worth noting
• It took extra innings, but Washington's Michael Morse extended his career-high hitting streak to 16 games Tuesday with a double to start the 12th inning. Morse went 1-for-5 and is now hitting .324 (22-for-68) with four doubles, three homers, 11 RBIs and nine runs scored during the streak. Cesar Izturis pinch-ran for Morse and scored the decisive run.

• Astros lefty Wesley Wright threw two-thirds of an inning Tuesday night to extend his scoreless streak to 11 2/3 innings over his past 12 appearances. He allowed six hits, walked one and struck out 13, including both batters Tuesday, in that time.

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