Houston at Washington

Houston (8-11) «000100030491
Washington (9-10)000002000261

Astros 4, Nationals 2


VIERA, Fla. (AP) - Stephen Strasburg moved one step closer to being ready for his opening day start by striking out eight Houston Astros Saturday night.

The 24-year-old right-hander threw a spring training-high 93 pitches in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-2 loss to the Houston Astros.

The overpowering command is there: At one point, Strasburg struck out five batters in a row - that streak was broken up by former teammate Rick Ankiel's solo homer in the fourth inning.

Now, he just needs to get his pitch-count up a bit.

"When you get to this point and you start to get to closer to 100 pitches, you're like, `All right, let's get the season going,"' Strasburg said. "But that's not the case. I've still got a couple of weeks. I'm just going to keep working and keep grinding."

Strasburg did make one significant improvement from his last start, adjusting his spot on the rubber when he pitched from out of the stretch. He struggled with that in his last outing against the Atlanta Braves on March 11.

"I felt better out of the stretch today," Strasburg said. "I just made an adjustment of where I put my foot on the rubber. It seemed to help me use my legs a little bit better and get on top of the ball."

Saturday night also marked the debut of Ryan Zimmerman playing defensively at third base. Zimmerman, who had shoulder surgery on Oct. 25, had been serving as the Nationals designated hitter this spring.

It didn't take long for Zimmerman to get tested. Houston's Carlos Corporan led off the second inning with a slow roller up the third base line that Zimmerman had to field on the run and throw across his body to get the out at first base.

"I was a little nervous in the first inning, but everything was good," Zimmerman said. "I felt better each inning. It was good to back out in front of people and get back into a game."

Astros starter Lucas Harrell could probably say the same thing. The right-hander missed his last scheduled start because of a groin injury, but when four scoreless innings Saturday night. He did not allow a hit while walking two and striking out three.

"I feel great," Harrell said. "It was one of those things where I mixed it up, used all of my pitches and used the defense (to make plays)."

Harrell reported no problem with his groin injury and said he felt like he could have gone a couple more innings.

The Astros pitcher did have one scare, though, in the bottom of the fourth when he sawed off Zimmerman on an inside pitch and the broken bat sailed over his head.

Harrell immediately hit the deck, avoiding all but a small particle of the bat, which hit him in the face.

"You've always got to protect yourself out there and when . almost the entire bat's coming at you at head level, it can definitely be a little bit scary," Harrell said. "But I got away. Luckily, I didn't get hit."

NOTES: LHP Ross Detwiler rejoined the Nationals on Saturday, one day after Team USA was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic on Friday night in Miami. Detwiler will pitch Sunday for Washington against Detroit . LHP Gio Gonzalez, meanwhile, is not expected to be back until Monday. "He's staying at home with his buddies,' Johnson said of Gonzalez, who is from nearby Hialeah. The Nationals manager was sure Gonzalez was getting his work in and added the left-hander will likely throw at the team's minor league complex on Monday. . RHP Chris Young is expected to make two more starts for the Nationals this spring, the next outing coming on Wednesday. . Johnson said as of now Dan Haren is his No. 4 starter, while Detwiler is No. 5. The team has already announced Strasburg will start opening day. He is expected to be followed by Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann. .The Astros had a scare during batting practice when first base coach Dave Clark was hit in the head by a thrown ball and fell to the ground. A large crowd gathered around Clark, who got up after several minutes and later assumed his first base coaching duties once the game started. . Astros manager Bo Porter was eager to get his first glimpse of three prospects - infielders Carlos Correa and Jonathan Singleton, as well as outfielder Domingo Santana. Previously, he only read minor league reports about the trio and watched them field ground balls and take batting practice. "That's one of the reasons why we brought them over today, to give not only myself but the rest of the staff an opportunity to see these guys in action." . Right fielder Fernando Martinez left the game after the top of the first inning with back tightness.

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.
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Players of the Game

T. Crowe
AB 5
R 1
H 3
HR 0

D. Span
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0

Related Video

Houston Astros
Trevor Crowe, LF5130021 .318
Brett Wallace, 3B3010010 .294
    Carlos Correa, SS2111001 .500
Carlos Pena, 1B2000110 .258
    Jonathan Singleton, PR-1B1000001 .000
Fernando Martinez, RF1000012 .333
    Robbie Grossman, CF3000022 .273
    Brandon Barnes, CF0000000 .375
Rick Ankiel, CF-RF3111023 .429
    Domingo Santana, RF0000100 .000
Carlos Corporan, C3000000 .333
    Rene Garcia, C1012000 .300
Marwin Gonzalez, SS-3B3000000 .294
    Edgar Gonzalez, P1000012 .000
Jacob Elmore, 2B4010010 .185
Lucas Harrell, P1000011 .000
   a- Jimmy Paredes, PH1000010 .120
    Wesley Wright, P0000000 .000
    Hector Ambriz, P0000000 .000
    Josh Fields, P0000000 .000
    Jose Martinez, 3B2110001 .333
a-struck out for Harrell in the 5th
2B - Trevor Crowe (2, Strasburg)
HR - Rick Ankiel (2, Strasburg)
RBI - Carlos Correa (1), Rick Ankiel (3), Rene Garcia 2 (3)
2-OUT RBI - Rene Garcia 2 (2)
SB - Carlos Correa (1, 2nd base off Storen/Snyder), Jacob Elmore (1, 3rd base off Rodriguez/Snyder)
Team LOB - 7
DP - Elmore-M. Gonzalez-Pena
E - Marwin Gonzalez (3, Dropped fly)
Houston Astros
Lucas Harrell 4000230 2.08
Wesley Wright0100000 10.13
Hector Ambriz (H,1) 1000000 4.15
Josh Fields (BS,1) 1220200 4.26
Edgar Gonzalez (W,1-0) 3300020 1.80
Pitches-Strikes - Lucas Harrell 25-17, Wesley Wright 1-1, Hector Ambriz 3-3, Josh Fields 14-6, Edgar Gonzalez 16-16
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Lucas Harrell 7-1, Hector Ambriz 2-1, Josh Fields 1-3, Edgar Gonzalez 3-4
Batters Faced - Lucas Harrell 13, Wesley Wright 1, Hector Ambriz 3, Josh Fields 8, Edgar Gonzalez 12
Washington Nationals
Denard Span, CF4120010 .188
    Corey Brown, CF1000001 .265
Jayson Werth, RF3000113 .250
    Carlos Rivero, RF0000000 .194
Bryce Harper, LF2000101 .415
    Tyler Moore, PR-LF1100000 .233
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B2000000 .458
    Chad Tracy, 3B2010003 .194
Adam LaRoche, 1B3010101 .125
    Henry Rodriguez, P0000000 .000
Ian Desmond, SS3011012 .278
    Zach Walters, PR-SS1000011 .294
Danny Espinosa, 2B3000004 .293
    Drew Storen, P0000000 .000
    Chris Marrero, 1B1000010 .220
Wilson Ramos, C2000001 .333
    Craig Stammen, P0000000 .000
   a- Stephen Lombardozzi, PH-2B2000000 .196
Stephen Strasburg, P1000000 .000
    Chris Snyder, C2010100 .222
a-grounded out for Stammen in the 7th
2B - Denard Span (3, Fields)
RBI - Ian Desmond (4)
2-OUT RBI - Ian Desmond (2)
Team LOB - 8
Outfield Assists - Denard Span 1
E - Carlos Rivero (1, Dropped fly)
Washington Nationals
Stephen Strasburg 5.1511181 4.66
Craig Stammen 1.2000020 4.22
Drew Storen (BS,1; L,1-1) 1433120 6.43
Henry Rodriguez 1000010 2.45
Pitches-Strikes - Stephen Strasburg 44-38, Craig Stammen 9-9, Drew Storen 15-11, Henry Rodriguez 7-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Stephen Strasburg 6-1, Craig Stammen 2-1
Batters Faced - Stephen Strasburg 21, Craig Stammen 5, Drew Storen 8, Henry Rodriguez 4
Game Information
Attendance - 6234
Game Time - 3:02
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Ed Hickox, First Base - Hunter Wendelstedt, Second Base - Laz Diaz, Third Base - Paul Nauert