Nats, Strasburg grab 2-0 lead over Marlins (Nats win 2-1)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP

Score: Nationals 2, Marlins 1

Recap: Stephen Strasburg worked four shutout innings, matching Jordan Zimmermann for the longest outing by a Nationals pitcher this spring. Strasburg allowed two hits, walked one and fanned four.

Need to know: Nationals manager Matt Williams will use the off-day Tuesday to set his rotation, but it's no guarantee that Strasburg will start the March 31 season opener in New York against the Mets. That honor could go to Zimmermann.

On deck: Sunday, (ss) home vs. Tigers, 1:05 p.m. (MASN HD); (ss) at Astros in Kissimmee, 1:05 p.m.


JUPITER, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg hasn't been overpowering, just effective. And the Nationals right-hander trots to the mound for the bottom of the third with a 1-0 lead.

The Nats went ahead in the top half of the inning against Marlins ace Jose Fernandez. Will Rhymes drew a leadoff walk and went to third on Danny Espinosa's double off the wall in left (Rhymes might have scored, but he either held up at second to make sure the ball wasn't caught or tripped over second base - hard to tell without a replay).

Ryan Zimmerman followed with a sac fly to left to make it 1-0. Bryce Harper walked, but Wilson Ramos lined out to right to end the inning and the threat.

Through two innings, Strasburg has given up one hit and one walk and fanned two. When he issued a leadoff walk to Marcell Ozuna in the second, he made two pickoff throws to first, continuing his spring effort to do a better job of holding runners.

The guy in charge of the sound effects at Roger Dean Stadium obviously isn't aware of Strasburg's focus on holding runners, or the notion of preventing an opponent from scoring. After Strasburg's second pickoff toss, the stadium public address system blared Homer Simpson's voice saying, "Boring."

Guess it's spring training for everyone.

Update: Strasburg is getting stronger as he works today, and that's a good sign for the Nats.

The right-hander is through four innings, matching Jordan Zimmermann (March 11) for the longest outing by a Nats pitcher this spring.

The fourth inning has been a little different for Strasburg. For the first time this game, he retired the leadoff hitter, with Casey McGehee grounding to shortstop. And it's his first 1-2-3 inning, all three of the outs of the 6-3 variety.

Through four, Strasburg has allowed two hits, walked one and struck out four.

Update II: Strasburg is done after four innings and leaves with a 2-0 lead. Tyler Clippard is on to work the fifth.

Strasburg threw 61 pitches, 43 for strikes.

The Nats scored an unearned run in the top half of the inning, taking advantage of a one-out bouncer up the middle by Espinosa that eluded the second baseman. After Zimmerman flew out, Harper walked and Wilson Ramos shot a grounder up the middle to score Espinosa.

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