Washington Nationals' Offense Not Firing On All Cylinders... 5-1 Houston Astros Win.

March 12, 2012; Melbourne, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) pitches during the spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

• Up 0-2: Nats' right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was up 0-2 on Astros' outfielder Brian Bogusevic in the bottom of the second this afternoon, but the 25-year-old Washington Nationals' starter let the left-handed hitter work the count full, and then Zimmermann missed with a full-count fastball to put the leadoff runner on. Bogusevic stole second on Zimmermann and Nats' backstop Jesus Flores, took third on a fly to deep center by Astros' third baseman Chris Johnson (on which Roger Bernadina was apparently injured) and scored on a sac fly to left by Astros' catcher Chris Snyder. Snyder made contact with an 0-2 pitch and sent it deep enough to left to get the runner in. 1-0 Astros after two innings...

• El Caballo: Carlos Lee singled to start the Astros' fourth, the third-straight leadoff runner to reach base against Jordan Zimmermann this afternoon. Zimmermann walked Bogusevic in the second, and the Astros' outfielder eventually scored the game's first run. In the third, Zimmermann gave up a leadoff single by Houston's right fielder John Buck, before retiring the next three Astros in order. In the fourth, Lee singled, moved to second on a groundout, took third on a single by Chris Snyder and scored on a two-out hit by young Astros' infielder Jose Altuve, whose RBI single made it a 2-0 Houston game after four innings in Kissimmee.

Brian Bixler took Zimmermann deep for a solo blast to start the fifth...Yes that Brian Bixler. It's Bixler's second HR of the Spring. He's homer-less in 147 career major league games... though he did hit one at Triple-A Syracuse last season... and hit 4 in 411 at bats in 2010. He did have two HR's last Spring for the Nats... Zimmermann gives up a one-out double by Travis Buck and an RBI single by El Caballo, Carlos Lee, before a 6-4-3 DP ends the fifth. Zimmermann's done: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K's, 1 HR, 74 pitches, 51 strikes (pitch count via WTOP's Craig Heist @cheistWTOP.)

• When Nats' catcher Jesus Flores grounded out to short in the top of the sixth, he was the 15th straight National to go down as Houston pitchers Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell combined to no-hit Washington's batters through six innings this afternoon. The only Nats' hitter to reach base through six was Danny Espinosa, who walked with one down in the first. Two outs later Espinosa was stranded at second, and 17 batters later, after Nats' prospect Kevin Keyes and Ian Desmond both flew out to right, the Nationals were being no-hit through six innings in Kissimmee, Florida's Osceola County Stadium.

Astros' right-hander Brett Myers tried to keep the no-hitter going through seven, retiring Danny Espinosa (swinging K) and Ryan Zimmerman (groundout) for the eighteenth and nineteenth straight outs of the game made by Nationals' batters. 19 in a row up and down, but then Jayson Werth reaches on an infield single, which is described as a, "14-hopper" by NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman." But it's a hit and more importantly the Nationals are no longer being no-hit, though they're being shutout. Werth's stranded at first one out later. 5-0 Astros after seven innings in Florida.

Jason Michaels broke a streak of 16 scoreless innings with a solo HR off Astros' right-hander Fernando Abad to lead off the Nats' eighth. (The 3rd run in 35 innings according to the Washington Times' Amanda Comak.) The next three Nats went down in order though. 5-1 Astros after eight. The last run the Nationals scored (before Michaels' HR) came in the 10th inning of the Nationals 3-2 loss to the Braves this past Wednesday. After that it was nine scoreless against Cardinals on Thursday and seven this afternoon before the Nationals finally pushed another run across the plate. That's the only run the Nationals score, however, as they drop a 5-1 decision and lose the ninth game of their last eleven, leaving them 0-9-1 in their last ten Grapefruit League games. Not that they count or anything...

BOX SCORE.

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