(Jonathan Newton)

End, 3:59: It has not been a great spring for Tyler Clippard, who entered today having allowed three runs in four innings despite seven strikeouts. Today, he may have seriously affected his chances to compete for the Nationals closer spot. The Astros pumelled him for five runs in the ninth as Clippard recorded just two out.s Astros batters, including a few wearing numbers in the 80s and 90s, smoked three balls off the fence or to the warning track. The final run scored when Anderson Hernandez ripped a single to right. The Nationals lost, 8-7, but Clippard’s meltdown is of far greater concern than the final result.

Mid 8, 3:29: Wilson Ramos is a brute at the plate. He drilled a home run to center that flew over the 410-mark, his first home run of the spring. The ball explodes off his bat. It’s 7-3, Nats.

End 7, 3:21: Ross Detwiler summed up his outing thusly: “It was bad.” He did not have the attacking mentality he took with him to the mound in his first few outings, and that’s what cost him.

Meantime, Doug Slaten dealt in the seventh inning. He struck out the first two batters he faced, then got the third to pop-up. Still 6-3 Nats.

Bot 6, 3:03: The Nats went down quickly in the sixth, and Cole Kimball remains on the mound for the Nats. It looks like we’ve reached the point of spring at which relievers will throw multiple innings. Kimball walked the first batter he faced, but came back with a swinging strikeout of Quintero. Pretty soon, we’re going down to speak with Detwiler, so updates will dry up.

End 5, 2:48: Cole Kimball shut things down in the fifth. He walked a batter, but he got out of the inning by striking out Carlos Lee with a sizzling high fastball. Still 6-3.

Top 5, 2:35: Pretty high on my list of things I did not expect to see today, right ahead of gold coins falling from the sky, was Nyjer Morgan roping a three-run home run to right field off of Brett Myers. But that is precisely what just happened. Morgan lined the shot down the line, right over a 330-foot sign. Though a little short, it wasn’t a fluky home run. Alex Cora, another hitter without much power, followed with a double off the wall. He scored after stealing thid and coming home on a poor throw. Matt Stairs doubled, and with the inning still going it’s 6-3, Nationals.

End 4, 2:22: Sean Burnett replaced Detwiler and faced the minimum in the fourth despite an error by third baseman Brian Bixler to start the inning. He induced a 6-4-3 double play by Humberto Quintero, then got a weak grounder to first by Myers. It’s 3-2 Astros still.

Mid 4, 2:13: Three up, three down for the Nats. Michael Morse struck out flailing on a curveball in the dirt, which had to be the worst swing he’s taken all swing. He crushed a liner to center in his first at-bat, but hard-throwing righties like Myers have always been Morse’s biggest challenge. 3-2, Astros.

Bot 3, 2:02: Ross Detwiler had by far his worst inning of the spring in the second, allowing three runs on hree hits and walk as the Nats fell behind, 3-2. The Nationals went down in order in their half of the inning.

End 1, 1:29: Clint Barmes doubkled off Ross Detwiler with one out, but Detwiler otherwise cruised. One pop up to the infield and two groundballs. 2-0, Nats.

Mid 1, 1:20: The Nationals added one run to their lead when Michael Morse blistered a line drive to center field. It was caught, but it allowed Cora to score from third. Here comes Ross Detwiler.

Top 1, 1:13: The Nationals and Astros are underway in Kissimmee, with the Nationals grabbing a 1-0 lead with a hot start. Nyjer Morgan drew a leadoff walk off Brett Myers to lead off. That’s his fourth walk this spring. Alex Cora followed with a bounding single up the midde, on which Morgan went first to third. Jayson Werth folowed with a single to left, sending Cora to third base and scoring Morgan. Surely , the two first-to-thirds will delight of Bo Porter.

Keep it here for updates this afternoon.