Fresh from his most recent start that yielded a two-hitter with nine strikeouts, Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson began last night’s 11-4 loss to the Houston Astros by fanning leadoff batter Jared Schafer on three pitches.

It appeared at that point Jackson perhaps was destined for another quality start, much like the entire starting staff has produced during the team’s early upswing.

The Astros instead sent the next six hitters to the plate for three triples among their six hits and five runs, leaving Jackson in jeopardy of not making it out of the first inning.

“At that point the damage is done, and you just try to tell yourself to go out and try not to overdo it,” Jackson said. “Just go out and continue to throw strikes and let the defense play behind you.”

In doing so, Jackson retired the final two hitters to get out of the inning and went on to allow one base runner during the rest of his start, which lasted through the fifth.

Jackson retired 14 of the next 15 hitters after Houston built a 5-0 lead, and the Nationals closed within a run on Ryan Zimmerman’s three-run blast in the third.

“Basically [Jackson] was throwing all right, but his location was pretty much down the middle, it looked liked to me,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “First thing I thought was maybe he was a little under the weather, but he then he turned it up a notch and was unhittable the rest of the way.”

That Jackson was able to pitch five innings meant the Nationals’ overworked bullpen was able to get at least some rest. Tom Gorzelanny, in fact, had begun warming up in the bullpen in the first inning before Jackson settled down.

Gorzelanny eventually entered in the sixth, and he also left too many pitches up in the zone. The Astros made him pay to the tune of six runs over two innings.

“Edwin did a good job after that first inning to hang around and then save some of the guys in the pen,” Zimmerman said. “We got ourselves back into it, but can’t win every game. . . .

“Your starters aren’t going to have one-something [ERA] all year. They’re still very good, and I can’t wait for Edwin to pitch 30 more times. It happens. Guys aren’t going to go seven, eight innings every time.”

More on the Nationals:

Astros triple down on Nats to avoid sweep

Box score: Astros 11, Nationals 4

Bench rotation remains in flux

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