Strasburg lasted 2 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and striking out three. He was given a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, when Jason Michaels singled to center field, scoring Michael Morse.
But it was all Astros after that. In the top of the third inning. Chris Snyder swung at Strasburg's 3-1 fastball and hit the ball over the left-field wall to tie the score at 1. Snyder came away impressed with the way Strasburg has been able to come back from Tommy John surgery.
"He's got a lot of stuff, definitely," Snyder said. "That first fastball he threw me gets on you and then he buckled me with a curveball. The kid's got a lot of stuff, definitely. He's got good ride on them [fastballs]. It will ride back through the zone. That was the first time I faced him.
"Obviously, you hear about him, but it's definitely live stuff -- him coming off Tommy John and Day 2 of Spring Training games. He's definitely got good stuff."
Strasburg left the game in the third with two outs and a runner on second. Like all the Nationals' starters, Strasburg was on a pitch limit to start the exhibition season. He threw 44 pitches, while 26 of them went for strikes.
"I felt good. My arm felt strong," Strasburg said. "I think the big thing was going out and trying to pound the zone. Obviously, it has been a while throwing offspeed [pitches] to hitters and stuff. The biggest thing that I noticed was that it was very easy for me to go out there, even in the third inning, I felt I could have gone a few more [innings]."
Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny entered the game and had a hard time getting hitters out. He allowed a three-run homer to J.D. Martinez to give the Astros a 4-1 lead.
Houston batted around in the fourth inning and scored five more runs off Gorzelanny. Fernando Martinez highlighted the scoring with a three-run homer.
Up next for Nationals: Left-hander John Lannan takes the mound against the Mets on Monday evening in Port St. Lucie, Fla. First pitch on MLB.TV will be at 6:10 p.m. ET. Lannan is considered by many to be on the trade block because the Nationals have a plethora of starting pitching. It will be interesting to see which teams have interest in Lannan. The Nationals most likely would want a position player in return.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.