NATIONALS QUICK WRAP
Score: Nationals 8, Astros 5
Recap: The Nats put up a six-spot in the first inning thanks mostly to a two-run shot by Bryce Harper and a three-run bomb off the bat of Wilson Ramos that launched into orbit. Zach Walters' two-run single added some cushion in the late innings after Houston had trimmed the Nats' lead to one.
Need to know: Tanner Roark looked solid in 2 2/3 innings, Rafael Soriano allowed two runs in his spring debut and Jerry Blevins kept a spotless spring ERA by working 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
On deck: Saturday, at Jupiter (ss) vs. Cardinals, 1:05 p.m.; home (ss) vs. Braves, 1:05 p.m. on 1580am
VIERA, Fla. - As if Bryce Harper's moonshot of a two-run homer into the wind in the first inning wasn't enough, Wilson Ramos had to one-up him with a three-run blast that probably came down in Orlando.
The two bombs have put the Nationals up over the Astros 6-0 after just one inning.
Harper's first homer of spring was a towering shot off Astros lefty Brett Oberholtzer that fought through a stiff breeze and cleared the wall in right.
Given Harper's struggles against left-handed pitching last season (he hit .214/.327/.321 off southpaws with just two homers in 131 at-bats), the Nats have to be happy with that swing.
Three batters later, Ramos took the Nats' 3-0 lead and doubled it.
Ramos destroyed an Oberholtzer pitch, sending it over the World of Beer patio beyond the left field fence and down the hill towards Stadium Parkway.
Ramos put on a display in batting practice a handful of days ago, crushing two pitches off the scoreboard in left-center. This ball might have been hit even further.
It's Ramos' first longball of spring. He's now 6-for-11 with six RBIs.
Ian Desmond also doubled in the first, making him 5-for-11 with four extra-base hits this spring.
Not that it matters any in spring, but Tanner Roark now has a six-run lead as he takes the mound for the top of the second inning after working a scoreless first.
Update: Roark is now done after 2 2/3 innings of work, having reached his pitch limit in his second outing of spring.
The right-hander allowed one run on four hits with three strikeouts. He threw 49 pitches, 28 for strikes.
Roark struck out two in the second inning, then retired the first two batters he faced in the third (including a strikeout of Astros leadoff hitter Robbie Grossman) before surrendering a long - and I mean long - homer to left-center off the bat of Marc Krauss.
Christian Garcia came on to relieve Roark and struck out Chris Carter on what looked like a slider to end the frame. Solid outing by Roark, and an impressive offspeed pitch by Garcia.
It's 6-1 Nats after three.
Update II: Garcia ended up facing eight batters in his 1 1/3 innings of work, which might imply that he pitched poorly. That wasn't exactly the case.
Garcia struck out three and looked pretty sharp, but just got a few unlucky breaks. He allowed a couple of seeing-eye singles and also wasn't helped out when Denard Span dropped a fly ball to center, a play that was complicated by a stiff wind that's swirling around today.
Two unearned runs were charged to Garcia in the fourth.
Rafael Soriano then came on to work the fifth in his spring debut, and he also allowed two runs. Soriano surrendered three hits in his inning of work, the last of which was Carlos Corporan's two-run double into the right field corner on a first-pitch Soriano fastball.
Soriano is the last pitcher on the Nats roster other than the injured Ryan Mattheus to have appeared in a spring game.
It's 6-5 Nats here in the fifth.