Strasburg bounces back after slow start, Rendon homers

VIERA, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg began his outing this afternoon looking pretty out of sorts. The Nationals right-hander walked the first two batters he faced and gave up an RBI single to Allen Craig, making it 1-0 Cardinals seemingly before most fans had even settled in to their seats.

Strasburg eventually settled down, however, and ended up allowing just that one run on two hits with the two walks over three solid innings of work.

The righty threw 48 pitches, 28 for strikes, in his second start of spring.

Strasburg benefited from two groundball double plays, one of which cut down Craig in the first and another which eliminated Joey Butler from the basepaths in the second after the left fielder had reached on a single to right with one out.

It's a bit strange to see Strasburg walk off the field at the end of an outing without a strikeout on his line score (even when he goes just three innings) but that's what happened today.

It'll be interesting to see how the Nats' ace felt his stuff was working today, given the early command issues and lack of put-away pitches. He was ahead in the count a number of times today (including on the second walk, when he was up on Kolten Wong 1-2 only to let him go), but seemingly didn't have the dominating secondary stuff that he generally does.

Strasburg did get to work on holding baserunners, which has been a focus of his this spring, and made a nice defensive play to end his outing, getting over to cover first and stretching out for a Danny Espinosa throw that was a little wide of the mark.

Espinosa, by the way, is 2-for-2 today with two singles. He's now 4-for-6 with a double and a walk in his last three games.

Anthony Rendon hit his first homer of spring, a solo shot in the first inning, and Ian Desmond stole another bag, making him 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts this spring.

It's 5-1 Nats in the fourth as Matt Purke takes over for Strasburg.

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