Washington at Houston

Scoreboard
Washington (5-5)000000020270
Houston (6-5) «00000202x4111

Astros 4, Nationals 2

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Gio Gonzalez tuned up for his World Baseball Classic start with a strong start for Washington.

The 21-game winner from last season doesn't expect to be around the Nationals after Sunday when he will join the United States for the WBC - assuming the Americans advance to the elimination round.

"I'm still working on stuff, and I felt like I was building more strength," Gonzalez said Thursday after pitching three shutout innings in a 4-2 exhibition loss to the Houston Astros. "This time I was throwing the curveball, throwing the changeup for strikes, trying to get all three pitches in effect coming up on the Classic."

The 27-year-old left-hander is set up for Tuesday's start in his hometown of Miami.

"I've still got more work to do, more tuning up," he said. "I've still got to go out there and pitch more innings."

He threw 42 pitches against the Astros, giving up three hits while striking out three, and then threw 23 more pitches in the bullpen.

"I'm excited," said Gonzalez, who led the major leagues in wins in 2012 and finished third in the National League Cy Young vote. "I can't wait to join up with the team in Miami and just have some fun. Hopefully I can bring something to the team where we keep it nice and loose over there."

Astros starter Philip Humber gave up one hit in four innings, and Jason Castro drove in the winning runs with an eighth-inning single off losing pitcher Ryan Mattheus.

The 30-year-old Humber, who threw the 21st perfect game in big league history last April 22, took another solid step toward making the Astros' starting rotation in his second spring start.

"I'm still not where I want to be yet. I didn't throw all that many breaking balls, but that'll come," Humber said. "We're still pretty early, but I'm definitely pleased with what happened today."

So was manager Bon Porter, who is still looking for at least one more starting pitcher.

"Today was a great day all the way around," said Porter, who had criticized his team's erratic play earlier this week. "(We had) attention to detail, and it starts on the mound. ... Humber set the tone and everybody that came behind him followed it."

Corey Brown's bloop double was the only hit off Humber, who was released by the Chicago White Sox after going 5-5 season with a 6.44 earned run average last season.

"Right now the hitters are a little behind the pitchers, for the most part, so when the season comes I'm going to have to throw more off-speed pitches than I did today," he said. "But it was definitely a good sign; (the fastball) is the first thing to come usually and everything else follows after.

"I'm not concerned with results right now. Of course I'm trying to make my pitches, but . . . I'm focused on the process right now, and I feel good about where I'm at."

Castro's hit drove in Fernando Martinez, who had two of Houston's 11 hits, and Rick Ankiel.

Josh Zeid got the win for the Astros.

Michael Taylor drove in both of the Nationals' runs with an eighth-inning single off Zeid, who relieved Dallas Keuchel with the bases loaded.

NOTES: Paul Clemens pitched the ninth inning for a save . . . Houston first baseman Carlos Pena committed the game's only error when he lost Sandy Leon's high chopper in the sun, leading to an unearned run. "I just squeezed it too early, I think, or too late," Pena said . . . Jordan Lyles will start for Houston on Friday against the Braves . . . Jordan Zimmermann is scheduled to start for the Nationals against the Cardinals.

 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Players of the Game
Washington

M. Taylor
AB 1
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
Houston

J. Castro
AB 2
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
 

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Washington Nationals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Denard Span, CF3010001 .188
    Michael Taylor, PR-CF1012000 .333
Danny Espinosa, 2B3000011 .320
    Will Rhymes, 2B0000000 .267
Bryce Harper, LF2000100 .429
    Micah Owings, LF1000012 .286
Wilson Ramos, DH3010001 .333
   a- Chris Marrero, PH-DH1000002 .269
Ian Desmond, SS3000001 .350
    Zach Walters, SS1010000 .300
Chad Tracy, 3B2010000 .235
    Anthony Rendon, PR-3B2000012 .364
Tyler Moore, 1B2000001 .226
    Matt Skole, 1B2110011 .176
Kurt Suzuki, C2000000 .308
    Sandy Leon, C2100011 .111
Corey Brown, RF2010010 .250
    Carlos Rivero, RF0000100 .238
Totals3227226  
a-grounded out for Ramos in the 8th
Batting
2B - Denard Span (2, Keuchel), Chad Tracy (3, Lo), Matt Skole (2, Keuchel), Corey Brown (2, Humber)
SH - Will Rhymes (1)
RBI - Michael Taylor 2 (2)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Tracy-Espinosa-Moore, Tracy-Espinosa-Moore
Washington Nationals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Gio Gonzalez 3300130 2.25
Ross Ohlendorf 3322100 5.63
Drew Storen 1200020 2.25
Ryan Mattheus (L,1-1) 1322010 3.60
HBP - Corporan (by Ross Ohlendorf)
Pitches-Strikes - Gio Gonzalez 21-17, Ross Ohlendorf 16-11, Drew Storen 9-9, Ryan Mattheus 9-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Gio Gonzalez 3-2, Ross Ohlendorf 3-5, Ryan Mattheus 1-1
Batters Faced - Gio Gonzalez 12, Ross Ohlendorf 13, Drew Storen 5, Ryan Mattheus 6
Houston Astros
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Tyler Greene, SS2000011 .105
   a- Jonathan Villar, PH-SS2010002 .136
Jose Altuve, 2B2010001 .333
   b- Marwin Gonzalez, PH-2B2010002 .421
Chris Carter, LF2010011 .208
    Carlos Pena, 1B1100112 .222
Justin Maxwell, CF2000012 .190
    Fernando Martinez, LF2120000 .375
    Delino Deshields Jr., PR0100000 .125
    Brandon Barnes, CF0000000 .294
J.D. Martinez, RF2010002 .364
    Rick Ankiel, RF2111000 .471
Nate Freiman, DH2010001 .286
   c- Marc Krauss, PH-DH1001012 .375
Brandon Laird, 1B2010001 .368
    Jason Castro, C2012000 .417
Carlos Corporan, C1000001 .429
    Robbie Grossman, PR-CF^LF2000001 .375
Matt Dominguez, 3B1000102 .235
    Brett Wallace, 3B2000011 .350
Totals32411426  
a-lined out for T. Greene in the 5th
b-flied out for Altuve in the 5th
c-hit a sacrifice fly for Freiman in the 6th
Batting
2B - Chris Carter (1, G. Gonzalez), Fernando Martinez (2, Ohlendorf)
SF - Marc Krauss (1)
RBI - Rick Ankiel (2), Marc Krauss (2), Jason Castro 2 (7)
SB - Rick Ankiel (1, 2nd base off Mattheus/Leon)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Dominguez-Altuve-Laird, Dominguez-Laird
E - Carlos Pena (1, Misplayed grounder)
Houston Astros
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Philip Humber 4100110 2.00
Lo Chia-Jen 1100000 0.00
Dallas Keuchel 2321010 7.20
Joshua Zeid (BS,1; W,1-0) 1100110 1.80
Paul Clemens (S,1) 1100030 2.08
Pitches-Strikes - Philip Humber 18-14, Lo Chia-Jen 3-3, Dallas Keuchel 12-12, Joshua Zeid 10-6, Paul Clemens 10-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Philip Humber 3-7, Lo Chia-Jen 2-0, Dallas Keuchel 3-3, Joshua Zeid 2-0
Batters Faced - Philip Humber 13, Lo Chia-Jen 3, Dallas Keuchel 10, Joshua Zeid 5, Paul Clemens 4
Game Information
Attendance - 2900
Game Time - 2:45
Temperature - 60
Umpires - Home - Laz Diaz, First Base - Gary Cederstrom, Second Base - UMP Nonindividual, Third Base - Hunter Wendelstedt