Gio Gonzalez pitched three scoreless innings before heading to join the United States team at the World Baseball Classic and the Washington Nationals lost to the Houston Astros 4-2 Thursday.
Jason Castro drove in two runs with a single in the eighth inning off losing pitcher Ryan Mattheus that scored Fernando Martinez and Rick Ankiel.
Michael Taylor drove in both of the Nationals' runs with an eighth-inning single off Dallas Keutchel. Josh Zeid won for the Astros.
Gonzalez gave up three hits while striking out three.
Houston starter Phil Humber pitched four innings, giving up only a two-out double to Corey Brown.