Neither Washington left fielder Bryce Harper or today's center fielder Tony Gwynn, Jr. was able to get to a two-out, line drive, ground-rule double to right-center off Houston Astros' third baseman Luis Valbuena's bat.
Nationals' shortstop Ian Desmond made a range-y play and spinning throw from behind second in the next at bat, however, taking a potential RBI single to center away from Evan Gattis, the now-former Braves' slugger who's plying his trade in the American League West this season, and helping Nats' starter Doug Fister complete a scoreless first.
Desmond connected for the Nats' first hit of the day as well, doubling to right-center off Astros' starter Scott Feldman with one down in the Nationals' half of the first, but he too was stranded when both Harper and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman failed to drive him in.
Beautiful day in Viera for #Astros at the Nationals. First pitch at 12:05 pm CT. #AstrosST pic.twitter.com/UlX5q9orws— Houston Astros (@astros) March 13, 2015
Fister will likely be angry with himself for walking Jed Lowrie in the first at bat of the second.
Astros' first baseman Matt Dominguez followed with a single that sent Lowrie around to third, giving Houston runners on the corners with no one out and a botched, two-error rundown on a grounder to the mound that caught Lowrie in no-man's land between third and home, led to the first run of the game scoring, 1-0 'Stros. A swinging K from catcher Hank Conger and an athletic play on a bunt back to the mound by outfielder Jake Marisnick got Fister the first two outs of the frame, and he caught Robbie Grossman looking to end the top of the second.
#Nats pic.twitter.com/u5CqbMGQgH— Viera Rockets (@md_dc) March 13, 2015
Fister came back out for another inning of work in the third and surrendered a leadoff, solo home run by Astros' right fielder George Springer, who powered one out to right field for a 2-0 Houston lead.
Doug Fister's Line: 2.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 52 P, 33 S (pitch count via MASN's Chris Johnson).
Desmond to Dan Uggla to Zimmerman? Jerry Blevins like the sound of it and reporters on the scene in Viera liked Zim's pick at the end of the 6-4-3 as the Nats' infield helped the lefty reliever out of a 1st/2nd,1 out jam in the third by turning a nice double play. Blevins took over for Fister and held the Astros at bay.
Harper tied things up at 2-2 with a two-out, two-run double off Feldman in the Nationals' half of the third, and put the Nats ahead when he scored on an RBI single to right by Zimmerman. 3-2.
#Nats #SpaceCoast pic.twitter.com/ioxygEPOSW— Viera Rockets (@md_dc) March 13, 2015
Astros' second bagger Marwin Gonzalez singled his way on, took third on an errant throw by Blevins on a pickoff attempt and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jake Marisnick. Tied at 3-3.
George Springer hit his second four-bagger of the game in the fifth, taking Sammy Solis the other way this time on a home run to right-center that Harper tracked to the wall before watching it sail over, 4-3.
The Nationals loaded the bases with one down in the bottom of the fifth, but a double play grounder off Zimmerman's bat got Astros' hurler Roberto Hernandez out of trouble.
Hank Conger and Jake Marisnick hit back-to-back one-out singles in the Astros' sixth, but Solis escaped a potential jam when Robbie Grossman grounded into an inning-ending 6-3 DP.
Kila Ka'aihue drove Emmanuel Burriss in with an RBI single to right in the Nats' sixth, after Burriss replaced Wilson Ramos (single) and moved into scoring position when Dan Uggla walked, 4-4.
Uggla's pinch runner, Cutter Dykstra, put the Nationals up 5-4 when he scored on a groundout by outfield prospect Rafael Bautista.
The Nationals added a run on a solo home run by Ian Stewart in the eighth, but the Astros tied it up in the ninth, loading the bases with right-hander Scott McGregor on the mound and scoring two on RBI singles by shortstop Jonathan Villar and first baseman Jon Singleton. 6-6.
That's how it ended... a tie? Booo!!!