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Four Washington Nationals' Pitchers Combine For 8-0, 3-Hit Shutout Of Houston Astros.


• 19-year-old Nats' outfielder Bryce Harper was a late scratch from today's lineup. According to the Nationals (via @NationalsPR) on Twitter left calf tightness was the reason for the late decision. Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore added (@AdamKilgoreWP) that a Nats' official said it was, "'Nothing serious.'" The Nationals moved Brett Carroll over to right field and Eury Perez played center this afternoon. When Harper talked to reporters, he explained that he woke up with the calf issue and tried unsuccessfully to loosen it up before the game. In the WaPost's Mr. Kilgore's report on the conversation he quotes Harper explaining, "'I’m trying to be as careful as I can. I’d rather miss two days or three days down here than five during the season.'"

Ryan Zimmerman's 6 for 23 with two doubles and two HR's against Livan Hernandez in his career. The two have been teammates for five of Zimmerman's seven major league seasons with Hernandez pitching in D.C. in '05 (when Zim was drafted and debuted) and '06 before bouncing around the league (to Arizona, Minnesota, Colorado and New York) and finally returning to the nation's capital in 2009. Hernandez returned for two more seasons after that, but the team parted ways with the veteran right-hander after the 2011 season when there was no longer any room in their rotation for the soft-tossing control artist. Livan signed a minor league deal with the Astros this winter and he's in camp trying to work his into the rotation of what would be his eighth major league team. Zimmerman's last HR off Hernandez before today's (which he hit out to right in the bottom of the first to give Washington a 1-0 lead) came in August of 2007 when Hernandez was with Arizona. Today's blast was Zimmerman's first of the Spring and the two-out solo shot gave the Nats an early advantage...

• Brett Carroll's two-out double in the second left the Nats' outfield option 5 for 11 so far this Spring. Eury Perez, who's 2 for 5 three games into Grapefruit League action, singled to center off Livan Hernandez to drive Carroll in from second and give the Nats a 2-0 lead. Perez, 21, who had a .283/.319/.321 line with 45 stolen bases in 119 games and 465 plate appearances for Class-A Potomac in his fifth MLB season in 2011 was placed on the 40-Man Roster last winter to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. Random Fact: The right-handed-hitting and throwing 6'0'', 180lb outfielder has stolen 109 bases in 137 attempts.

Edwin Jackson started the game by retiring the first six batters he faced. The 28-year-old Nats' starter gave up back-to-back singles to start the third, but got a double play grounder out of Astros' infielder Diory Hernandez before a J.B. Shuck groundout ended E-Jax' third scoreless frame. With a 60-pitch pitch count in his second Spring start, Jackson returned for the top of the fourth collecting his third K of the afternoon on the way to another scoreless frame. The Nats' late-winter signing retired the Astros in order in three of four innings and now has 6.0 scoreless innings of work over two starts this Spring.

Lombardouble: Steve Lombardozzi got the start at short today, and the 23-year-old Fulton, Maryland-born '08 19th Round pick was 1 for 2 with a walk and a double when he was lifted from the game for a pinch runner in the fifth. Lombardozzi hustled for his 5th inning double, sending a grounder by first into right and beating the throw in to the second base bag. Lombardozzi was replaced on the basepaths by the Nats' 2011 1st Round pick Anthony Rendon, who then scored one out later on an RBI single by Ryan Zimmerman that made it 3-0. Zim exited the game after going 2 for 3 with a HR and an RBI single. Zimmerman's pinch runner Mark Teahen then scored on a Jason Michaels' single that made it 4-0 Nationals after five.

Ross Detwiler retired six straight batters after Edwin Jackson's four scoreless. The Nationals added three runs in bottom of the sixth with Brett Carroll walking, taking second on a Eury Perez single and scoring on a ground-rule double by Anthony Rendon. 5-0. Mark Teahen's single drove both Perez and Rendon in to make it 7-0 Nats, and Detwiler, who's fighting for a spot on the Opening Day roster (and out of options) returned for the seventh, retiring three more Astros in order and collecting his third K of the day. 9 up, 9 down for Detwiler. After Brett Carroll drove in a run with a groundout in the seventh, 8-0, Ryan Perry threw the 8th scoreless frame by Nats' pitchers this afternoon. Henry Rodriguez retired the side in order in the ninth as four Nats' pitchers combined on a 3-hit shutout. 8-0 final.