Atlanta Braves 9-5 Over Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon Keep Hitting, Bullpen Roughed Up

US PRESSWIRE

The Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves' first Grapefruit League game was delayed by rain, but they got the game in and it went on forever as the Nats' bullpen struggled to retire batters and the Braves built up a 9-3 lead. Ross Detwiler was happy with his start though, and Bryce Harper kept hitting.

The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals started their first Grapefruit League game of 2013 a little late, with rain delaying the first pitch for over an hour. When they did roll up the tarp and start playing, however, the scheduled starters were on the hill since they knew what the weather held and prepared accordingly. In the top of the first, 25-year-old fourth-year Braves' lefty Mike Minor gave up a walk to Danny Espinosa, a chopper by Bryce Harper that bounced over Freddie Freeman at first and sent Espi around to third and a groundout to ATL third baseman Juan Francisco by Tyler Moore that brought Espinosa home for an early 1-0 Nationals' lead. An RBI single by Ian Desmond brought Harper in to make it 2-0 Nats, but that's all the scoring Washington did in the first as Anthony Rendon struck out with the bases loaded to end the opening frame.

Ross Detwiler threw an efficient 13-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the first vs the Braves, getting two groundouts around a backwards K. The Nats' 26-year-old left-hander got Atlanta's right fielder Jason Heyward looking with a curve for the strikeout and retired the Braves in order to start his first Spring Training outing of 2013. In his second inning of work, Detwiler got Freddie Freeman to fly to deep left center on the first pitch he threw. One pitch, one out, but Tyler Moore dropped a pop off B.J. Upton's bat in the next AB to put the Braves' first runner on. A Dan Uggla single put two runners on, but Detwiler struck Juan Francisco out and got a groundout to first from catcher Christian Bethancourt to end his second scoreless frame. 16 pitch inning. 29 pitches through 2.0 scoreless.

Bryce Harper's second double of the day left him 2 for 2 early in the game and 5 for 7 early this Spring as the 20-year-old picked up where he left off last Sept/October before a little bit of a struggle in the first four games of the NLDS. Two outs after Harper's second hit he was still standing at second base when Braves' right-hander Cory Rasmus struck Chris Marrero out to end the top of the third.

Ross Detwiler gave up four hits and the lead in the Braves' third with Ramiro Pena, Reed Johnson, Justin and B.J. Upton all singling as Atlanta rallied to tie it and end the Nationals' lefty's day after 2.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 Ks, 41 P, 28 S. Ryan Perry replaced Detwiler on the mound and got Dan Uggla looking to end the third and keep it tied at 2-2 in the Braves' Spring home, Champions Stadium at ESPN's Wide World of Sports.

27-year-old right-hander David Carpenter took over for Atlanta in the fourth, giving up a single by hard-hitting Nats' prospect Anthony Rendon, which left the 22-year-old Nats' infielder 1 for 2 today and 3 for 8 so far this Spring. Rendon was stranded two outs later, and he retook the field where he turned a slick 5-3 inning-ending DP after Ryan Perry had given up leadoff and one-out singles by Juan Francisco and Ramiro Pena, respectively. Reed Johnson rolled the grounder to third and Rendon stepped on the bag before throwing to Tyler Moore at first.

Bryce Harper singled off first baseman Freddie Freeman's glove for what was ruled a hit, leaving Harp 3 for 3 today and 5 for 8 this Spring. The Nats' outfielder went first-to-third™ on a single by Tyler Moore and then scored on an RBI single by Ian Desmond to make it 3-2 Nationals. Braves' lefty Dusty Hughes (a 30-year-old veteran who pitched at Triple-A Gwinnett in 2012) stopped the damage there. One batter into the Braves' fifth it was tied when 28-year-old Braves' outfielder Jordan Parraz took Ryan Perry deep for a solo HR that made it 3-3. 26-year-old Braves' 2010 23rd Round pick Evan Gattis doubled to center in the next at bat and then scored on an RBI single by Freddie Freeman that gave Atlanta a 4-3 lead. An RBI single by Juan Francisco brought Freeman in to make it 5-3 Braves.

Atlanta went up 7-3 after five as Perry and Brandon Mann finished up an inning in which 11 Braves batted and five runs scored. Bill Bray took over in the bottom of the sixth, making his second appearance of the Spring out of the Nats' bullpen. The left-hander gave up two doubles in the home-half of the frame, the second by left-handed hitting veteran Blake DeWitt was an RBI two-bagger that made it 8-3. Jeremy Accardo worked a scoreless seventh for the Nationals. One and two-out singles put runners on the corners and a wild pitch that got by Sandy Leon brought the Braves' 9th run in, 9-3 Atlanta.

Anthony Rendon doubled in a run in the Nationals' eighth with Chris Marrero taking a walk from former Nats' prospect Juan Jaime and then scoring on Rendon's second hit of the game. Sandy Leon hit the second-straight double to bring Rendon around as the Nationals pulled within four at 9-5. Rendon Update: 2 for 4 today, 4 for 10 so far this Spring. Cole Kimball threw a quick inning of relief in the bottom of the eighth, retiring the Braves in order in his second appearance this Spring. The Nats went down in order in the 9th and the Braves got the win. 9-5 final.

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