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Nationals 5-4 over Astros on walk-off single by Andrew Stevenson: Bryce Harper, Drew Ward homer in win

Bryce Harper and Drew Ward homered and Andrew Stevenson hit a walk-off winner in the bottom of the ninth as the Nationals beat the Astros, 5-4.

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Washington Nationals Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper got all of a 94 mph 2-2 fastball from Houston Astros’ left-hander Reymin Guduan with one on and two out in the fifth, and hit a no-doubter of a line drive onto the grass-covered hill beyond right field in West Palm Beach, FL’s Ballpark of the Palm Beaches for a two-run blast, his fifth of the Spring.

Washington’s 24-year-old right fielder improved to 8 for 24 (.333 AVG) in Grapefruit League action, with a double, five home runs and three walks in 10 games. Harper’s homer put the Nationals up 3-0 after five.

The Astros took a 4-3 lead on a seventh-inning slam, but Nats’ prospect Drew Ward hit a game-tying, opposite field home run to left in the eighth and Andrew Stevenson hit a walk-off winner in the ninth in what ended up a 5-4 win.

Here’s how it happened:

Joe Ross worked around a one-out single in the first, and stranded two after a leadoff walk and one-out single in the second, completing two scoreless frames on 31 pitches.

Ryan Zimmerman stepped in for the first time today 0 for 13 thus far in Grapefruit League action and grounded out to third on the first pitch he saw. 0 for 14...

Matt Wieters can pick it, judging by the fact that he only had one passed ball last season and deftly handled a few pitches in the dirt from Joe Ross early.

Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked about Wieters’ pitch-framing ability, of lack thereof, on MASN’s broadcast of today’s game, suggesting that the Nationals’ pitchers might make him a little better.

Astros’ lefty Dallas Keuchel held the Nationals hitless through two, but Stephen Drew sent a bouncer by third for a leadoff double and the Nats’ first hit in the third. He was stranded at third three outs later, however.

Ross retired eight straight batters after Tyler White’s one-out single in the second, finishing four scoreless on 60 pitches, with his 4 Ks total on the day coming from the eight batters he retired over that stretch.

Adam Eaton got into a 3-1 count in the first at bat of the fourth, and powered an opposite field fly out over the wall for a solo home run, his first of the Spring, 1-0.

Zimmerman grounded out to third base in his second at bat of the day, 0 for 15... #stillnotpanicking

Jayson Werth took a 94 mph 1-2 fastball from Astros’ righty James Hoyt back up the middle for a two-out single in the fourth, and back-to-back walks by Anthony Rendon and Stephen Drew loaded the bases in front of Matt Wieters, who popped out to short right to end the threat.

Joe Ross needed 25 pitches to get through a long-ish fifth, stranding two Astros’ runners after giving up a leadoff single and a two-out walk.

Clint Robinson improved to 5 for 23 this Spring with a leadoff single to left field off Astros’ lefty Reymin Guduan in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Trea Turner got ahead in the count, 2-1, and reached safely on a swinging bunt that dribbled down the third base line. Adam Eaton stepped in next and lined into a 6-4 double play, but Bryce Harper got all of a 94 mph 2-2 fastball from Guduan in the at bat that followed and hit a line drive over the right field fence for a two-run blast, his 5th of the Spring. 3-0.

Zimmerman walked in his final at bat of the game. #pluspatience

Jacob Turner finished off the sixth inning, after taking over for Braulio Lara, and came back out for the seventh. Two singles around a walk loaded the bases with one out and Astros’ prospect A.J. Reed cleared them with a grand slam on a bomb to right, 4-3 HOU.

Former Nats’ prospect Brad Peacock retired the Nationals in order in a quick seventh and came back out for the eight, retiring the first two batters he faced before Drew Ward stepped in and hit an 0-2 fastball out to left for an opposite field blast that tied things up at 4-4.

Neal Cotts worked around a two-out single for a scoreless top of the ninth, but the Nationals came up empty in the bottom of the inning.

Pedro Severino singled to start the Nationals’ ninth, and his pinch runner, Wilmer Difo, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and after Emmanuel Burriss walked, scored when Andrew Stevenson hit a line drive into the left-center gap for a walk-off winner.

Final Score: 5-4 Nationals