Harper still streaking in spring (Nats beat Mets 8-5, beat Astros 9-7)

VIERA, Fla. - Not that kind of streaking. Take it easy.

Bryce Harper continues to hit the cover off the baseball this spring, only elevating expectations for what could be to come in his second major league season.

Harper crushed a three-run homer off Mets right-hander Matt Harvey in the first inning today, smoking a ball over the advertisements above the right-center field wall.

It was Harper’s third home run this spring and made him 15-for-33 during the Grapefruit League season. That’s a .455 average, which I guess is decent.

Also decent are his .848 slugging percentage and seven RBIs in 13 spring games.

Jordan Zimmermann, meanwhile, had to throw 30 pitches to get through the first inning, but he’s settled in since then. Zimmermann was plagued by a couple poor defensive plays in the first - Chad Tracy booted a ball that was called a single and Adam LaRoche had a grounder go through his legs for an error - and surrendered two unearned runs.

Since then, however, Zimmermann has set down the Mets in order in two straight innings, including a two-strikeout frame in the second. Zimmermann also struck out Marlon Byrd looking to end the third.

The right-hander battled some dead arm his last time out, but he looks to be just fine today.

It’s 3-2 Nationals as we go to the bottom of the third.

Update: Zimmermann is done after 4 2/3 innings of work. He should be pretty pleased with this outing.

Making his fourth start of spring, Zimmermann allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Four of Zimmermann’s Ks were looking.

He threw 82 pitches, 54 for strikes. That’s the most pitches a Nationals starter has thrown in a game thus far this spring.

Zimmeramnn was pulled by manager Davey Johnson with two on and two outs in the fifth, and Craig Stammen then allowed an inherited run to score on Byrd’s single to left. Bryce Harper tried to cut down the run at the plate by throwing over the head of the cut-off man, but his throw was too late.

It was a pretty sharp outing for Zimmermann, who looked sharp after a lengthy first inning.

Update II: Drew Storen gave up a solo homer to Collin Cowgill in the top of the seventh, giving the Mets a one-run advantage, but the Nationals responded with a four-spot in the bottom half of the frame to take a 7-4 lead.

Tyler Moore, Harper and Zimmerman provided single RBIs in the seventh, and Lucas Duda’s fielding error accounted for another run.

Ryan Mattheus comes in to work the eighth for the Nats.

Update III: It’s a final. The Nationals win 8-5.

And in the other split-squad game out in Kissimmee, Anthony Rendon went 4-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs as the Nats beat the Astros 9-7.

Ross Ohlendorf allowed four runs over three innings in his first start of spring, but Rendon paced the offense and Micah Owings added two RBIs to lift the Nats to a win.

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