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Nationals drop 5-3 decision to Red Sox: Joe Ross gives up two home runs in 2nd Spring outing...

Joe Ross gave up back-to-back home runs in the first of his three innings and the Red Sox went on to win, 5-3, over the Nationals.

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

Washington Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker liked what he saw from Joe Ross in the 23-year-old right-hander’s first Grapefruit League start last weekend.

Ross tossed two scoreless against the Detroit Tigers in that start, striking out one batter and allowing just one hit in what ended up a 9-1 win in Lakeland, FL’s Joker Marchant Stadium.

“Very pleased,” Baker said after the brief outing, as quoted by’s Mark Zuckerman:

“He threw strikes. He threw effortlessly. He looked like he’d been out there before. I wasn’t surprised because I know how hard he worked this winter. But he threw well.”

This afternoon in West Palm Beach, Florida’s Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Ross left a few pitches up early and got hit hard as Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez connected for solo HRs off the Nationals’ starter in the first inning of what ended up a 5-3 loss to the Red Sox.

Here’s how it happened:

Ross retired the first two batters he faced this afternoon, but threw an 0-1 fastball to Mookie Betts that ended up on the grassy hill beyond the left field fence in West Palm Beach as the Red Sox took a 1-0 lead early.

Hanley Ramirez got up 3-1 in the at bat that followed and hit the second straight HR to left field for a 2-0 lead at the end of what ended up a 31-pitch opening frame for Ross.

Bryce Harper continued to cast doubt on the doubters this afternoon with a two-out opposite field single off Red Sox’ starter Eduardo Rodriguez, taking a fastball outside to left-center field. Anthony Rendon followed with a double to left field corner that Chris Young struggled with, allowing Harper to score from first, 2-1 Red Sox.

Derek Norris lined 1-1 fastball from Rodriguez to right field for a one-out opposite field single and scored one out later when Wilmer Difo doubled to left to tie it up, 2-2.

Norris followed up with some solid defense as well, getting to a slider outside from Michael Broadway with two down in the Red Sox’ half of the third inning and throwing Mookie Betts out at second from his knees on a stolen base attempt with some help from Wilmer Difo, who made a nice tag on the play.

Vance Worley gave up back-to-back walks to start the Red Sox’ fourth, and in spite of a nice diving play Ryan Zimmerman at first base, Jackie Bradley, Jr. reached safely on a one-out grounder when Zim’s throw to second pulled Trea Turner off the bag.

Pablo Sandoval stepped in with the bases loaded and one out and lined an 0-2 fastball up and out over the plate to right for a two-run single that made it 4-2 Red Sox.

Vance Worley fielded a grounder to the mound off Blake Swihart’s bat in the next at bat and threw to second for the force, but with Bradley, Jr. hustling around third, Trea Turner tried to turn a 1-6-3 and threw late to first base, allowing Bradley to beat Ryan Zimmerman’s throw home, 5-2. 31-pitch frame for Worley.

Joe Nathan worked a clean, 16-pitch fifth inning vs the Red Sox, though Mookie Betts absolutely smoked one fastball, on which he lined out to left field.

Trea Tuner was 0 for 2 with two Ks vs Red Sox’ starter Eduardo Rodriguez, but he put a nice swing on a fastball from reliever Matt Barnes in the fifth, lining a two-out single through the right side for his 5th hit in 19 ABs in Grapefruit League action.

Turner promptly stole his third base in three attempts this Spring in the next at bat, but was stranded there.

Koda Glover was hitting 95 on the radar gun as he struck out the side in an 18-pitch frame in the sixth.

He got Mitch Moreland swinging, Chris Young looking with a 95 mph 2-2 fastball inside that Jose Lobaton framed nicely, and threw a 3-2 slider up high by Jackie Bradley, Jr. for his third straight K.

Anthony Rendon (2 for 3) and Adam Lind hit back-to-back one-out singles off Edgar Olmos in the home-half of the sixth.

Austin Adams threw an 0-2 breaking ball by Pablo Sandoval for the first out of the seventh inning, and got a strike’em out throw’em out double play to end a scoreless frame.

Brian Goodwin walked in front of Emmanuel Burriss and Stephen Drew, who hit back-to-back singles off Ben Taylor in the Nationals’ seventh, loading the bases with no one out for Clint Robinson, who popped up to the infield. Brandon Snyder K’d swinging at a 1-2 slider for out No. 2, but Drew Ward worked a two-out, four-pitch walk to force in a run, 5-3 Red Sox. The Nationals left them loaded when Adam Lind flew out to left.

Braulio Lara worked around a two-out walk for a scoreless, 19-pitch frame in the top of the ninth, but the Nationals came up empty in the bottom of the frame.

Final Score: 5-3 Red Sox.