Nationals Journal

Tuesday, March 8, 2011; D04

Latest victory isn't a pretty one

The Nationals committed three errors on Monday and were spared several others by lucky breaks and official scoring quirks. They twice had to pull pitchers in mid-inning (generally a spring training no-no) and saw all but one of their six pitchers give up multiple hits and at least one earned run. But they also won, 14-9, over the Houston Astros in a grueling affair that lasted 3 hours 30 minutes.

But Bryce Harper, the Nationals' 18-year-old phenom, stroked a pair of doubles in the Nationals' nine-run eighth inning. The hits left Harper with a .308 batting average (4 for 13) and three RBI this spring.

"The second one was very impressive," Manager Jim Riggleman said, "and the fact the first one came off a left-hander is good enough by itself. The second ball he hit was another fastball up that's tough to get to."

Storen works on heater

Reliever Drew Storen, coming off consecutive sub-par outings, gave up three hits and two runs (one earned) in his only inning of work, but part of it can be attributed to the leaky defense the Nationals played behind him, and part to the fact the Nationals ordered him to throw almost exclusively fastballs in order to work on his command of that pitch.

"We're asking him to throw more fastballs, which is going to get him hit a little bit," Riggleman said. "He's not on top of his game by any means, but it was maybe not as bad as the linescore would say."

Said Storen: "I didn't like the results, but the way I pitched was a lot better and a big step ahead from my last time out. I used my fastball more."

- Dave Sheinin

© 2011 The Washington Post Company