Gio Gonzalez struck out the side in the first, getting the first two Houston Astros he faced looking before he got Jesus Guzman swinging to end a quick top of the inning in Grapefruit League action tonight in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium.
With a 1-0 lead after one, courtesy of a Denard Span double and productive groundouts from Jamey Carroll and Bryce Harper, Gonzalez retook the mound in the second and struck out his fourth and fifth consecutive batters to start the game before George Springer hit a grounder back to the mound that bounced off the Washington Nationals' starter's glove and fell unplayable into the grass behind the mound. Springer stole second to get himself into scoring position, but he was able to trot home when Astros' catcher Carlos Corporan hit a two-run home run out to right to make it 2-1 Houston.
Tonight's #Nats - #Astros game can be heard on 1580 AM with @CharlieSlowes & @DaveJageler. Who's excited? pic.twitter.com/ryxmwJci4e— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 10, 2014
The Astros loaded the bases before Gio Gonzalez got out of the second as he struggled with his command and gave up a walk, double and HBP after the home run by Corporan. Gonzalez's second start of the spring ended after 46 pitches in two innings. Blake Treinen took over for the Nationals in the third and walked the first batter he faced before getting a double play grounder out of outfielder Chris Carter. Matt Dominguez singled with two down, but was stranded. Still 2-1 Astros.
Houston starter Lucas Harrell gave up the double by Span and a walk to Zach Walters in the second, but got ground ball outs from the rest of the batters he faced, with the fifth a grounder of the game to third base off Jose Lobaton's bat to start an inning-ending 5-4-3 in the home-half of the frame.
Three more groundouts in the third got Harrell through three relatively quick frames with a 2-1 lead.
Blake Treinen retired the Astros in order in his second inning of work in the fourth, striking Gregorio Petit out to end the inning. A one-out walk and two-out single stretched him out a little bit in the top of the fifth, but Treinen got a groundout from Matt Dominguez to end his third scoreless inning of work.
#Astros starter @LucasHarrell34 is done after 4.0 solid innings. His line: 4IP, 2H, 1R, 1BB, 1SO. 10 outs on ground balls. Astros up 2-1.— Houston Astros (@astros) March 10, 2014
Zach Walters was 8 for 13 this spring after he singled off Astros' right-hander Michael Foltynewicz in the bottom of the fifth.
Rafael Soriano, in non-save mode, gave up a one-out double by Carlos Corporan in the top of the sixth and the third run of the game for the Astros when outfielder L.J. Hoes drove the 'Stros' catcher in with an RBI single to center field.
Gregorio Petit got on the hard way (HBP) and a bunt single by Delino DeShields loaded the bases for Astros' shortstop Jonathan Villar, who drove all three runners on in with a three-run double to left off Soriano that got over Bryce Harper's head and made it a 6-1 game. Japhet Amador's infield single in the next at bat brought in a run, 7-1 and ended Soriano's night.
Steven Souza, Jr. hit his first home run of the spring out to left field off Foltynewicz in the sixth, making it a 7-2 game in Viera.
Will Rhymes and 23-year-old Nats' 2012 8th Round pick Stephen Perez singled to left field one out later. Jhonatan Solano's two-out single off Astros' right-hander Josh Zeid got the Nationals within four at 7-3 and an infield single by Brian Goodwin loaded the bases to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Michael A. Taylor, who flew out to right field to end the threat.
It was still 7-3 Astros after eight. Xavier Cedeno had a runner reach on an error, but that runner, George Springer, got caught in a run down when the throw by first quickly bounced back into play. Carlos Correa's groundout to Mike Fontenot at second ended a scoreless inning of work for Cedeno.
Tyler Moore singled off RHP Josh Fields to start the bottom of the ninth and Stephen Perez singled for the second time tonight in the next at bat. Sandy Leon grounded into a force at second, putting runners on the corners for Theo Bowe, the 23-year-old outfield prospect taken from the Reds' organization in the Rule 5 Draft in December, grounded into a force that scored the Nats' fourth run, but the Astros won, 7-4 final.