Nats lose, 4-2

The Astros finished off Washington in the ninth. After Zach Walters hit a leadoff single, Anthony Rendon, Matt Skole and Sandy Leon struck out  in order. They lost, 4-2, to drop their record to 5-5-2.

Astros go up against Mattheus

Ryan Mattheus had been having an impeccable spring training before today. The Astros tagged him for two runs, both coming on a Jason Castro chopper into right field. As the ball bounded to the outfield, Mattheus screamed into his glove.

Fernando Martinez led off the inning with a double off the base of the right  field wall. Carlos Rivero, a third baseman by trade who’s playing outfield for the first time, showed off a surprisingly strong arm in holding Martinez to a single. Michael Taylor ended the inning by making a catch as he banged into the center field fence.

The Nats have three outs left.

Storen puts up a zero, Nats tie it in the 8th

Just got back from the clubhouse, where Gio Gonzalez filled reporters in that he threw 23 extra pitches in the bullpen. He mixed in more changeups and curves today, and he feels ready to depart for the World Baseball Classic.

Meantime, the Nationals have knotted the score at 2. Michael Taylor rolled a no-out, bases-loaded single into left field two score both runs.

Micah Owings made his spring training debut in the outfield. Naturally, the very batter who stepped in as he stood in the outfield roped a line drive at him. Owings caught it. Before the game, Owings chatted up Rick Ankiel, who helped convince him to make the switch from pitching to hitting full time.

Drew Storen pitched a scoreless seventh inning. He allowed two singles, one of them an infield hit, and struck out two.

Astros on the board

The Astros beat around Ohlendorf a bit in the sixth and took a 2-0 lead, the runs coming on an RBI groundout and a sac fly to left field. The lynchpin of the inning was a rocket off the right field fence from Carlos Corporan for a double. The regulars are starting to come out of the game for the Nationals after their three at-bats.

Bryce Harper does Bryce Harper Thing

Bryce Harper is learning left field this spring, and we are guessing outfield instructor Tony Tarasco didn’t teach him this one. Brandon Laird hit a hard grounder to the left side, and shortstop Ian Desmond couldn’t corral it on a dive. The ball deflected off his glove and trickled into shallow left field. Harper rushed to scoop up the ball as Laird made a wide turn at first. What came next you don’t see every game: Harper threw BEHIND Laird, trying to nab him at first. The one-hop throw went off of Tyler Moore’s mitt, but it would have been a close play.

Meantime, Ohlendorf is trying to get out of a two-on, two-out jam.

Anthony Rendon: not perfect

Chad Tracy ripped a double to right field with one out  in the fifth, then promptly exited for pinch runner Anthony Rendon. When Tyler Moore hit a dribbler to third, Rendon waited for the charging third baseman to throw the ball across diamond, then bolted to third. The Harperian aggressiveness bit him — the ball came back across the field, Rendon slid into a tag at third for a 5-3-6 double play.

Ohlendorf comes on

The Nationals went 1-2-3 again in the fourth against Phil Humber, with Bryce Harper drawing a walk before a 5-4-3 double play from Wilson Ramos erased him.

Gonzalez is indeed done, at least on the mound. After throwing 42 pitches, Gonzalez is getting in work in the bullpen, throwing extra pitches as Carlos Maldonado, in full catchers gear, stands in the batter’s box. His final line: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 42 pitches, 27 strikes.

Ohlendorf pitched a 1-2-3 fourth with the help of good defense. Tyler Moore stabbed a screaming liner at first, and Tracy started another 5-4-3 twin killing after a single. Still no runs for either team.

Nats get in the hit column, Gonzalez likely finished

Still scoreless after three innings. Corey Brown’s two-out bloop double to left gave the Nationals’ their first baserunner against Humber. Denard Span followed and smoked a line drive, but right at center field Justin Maxwell.

Gonzalez made things tough on himself at the start of the third, walking Matt Dominguez while throwing five of his first six pitches for balls. But he made an adjustment and righted himself. He struck out Greene looking, got a flyout from Altuve and whiffed Carter looking at a fastball at the knees and outside on the black. Gonzalez has thrown 43 pitches total, and so he’s likely done for the afternoon. Ross Ohlendorf is heating up in the bullpen.

Gonzalez rolls

Gonzalez needed just eight pitches to get through the second, thanks to a 5-4-3 double play Chad Tracy started and Danny Espinosa turned. Gonzalez has thrown 14 strikes out of 21 total pitches.

Quick and quiet

Phil Humber is 21 outs away from a perfect. The Nats didn’t stay at-bat long enough in the second inning for a fan to make a beer run. Ramos chopped to third, Desmond rolled a groundout to second and Chad Tracy popped up to shallow center. Easy work for Humber so far — he probably hasn’t even thrown 20 pitches.

Gonzalez escapes jam

Gio Gonzalez stranded runners on second and third to keep it scoreless in the first, throwing nine strikes in 13 pitches. Jose Altuve ripped a single to right with one out. Chris Carter belted a liner to right, which rode the wind and crashed high off the fence. Gonzaelz struck out former National Justin Maxwell flailing at a wicked curveball that dove at his knees. J.D Martinez grounded out to Ian Desmond to end the inning.

Quick first for the Nats

Nothing doing in the first inning for Washington against Philip Humber. Denard Span hit a deep fly out to right, Danny Espinosa flied softly to center and Bryce Harper popped up to the third baseman in foul territory. Here comes Gio Gonzalez.

First pitch on the way

It’s a chilly day here at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimme, just down the road from the Reptile World Serpentarium. The wind had been blowing hard out to right field for most of pregame, but now it seems to have shifted. In addition to their lineup and other travel roster players, the Nationals brought outfielder Michael Taylor and pitchers Brian Rauh and Taylor Hill over from the minor league side of camp.

We’ll be here to provide updates and insights all game.