Washington Nationals Recap: Big ninth inning lifts Nats to win over Astros
For a while it looked like the Washington Nationals were headed for their third straight Spring Training tie, but a big ninth inning led the team to a win over the Astros.
After the Houston Astros took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, it looked like the Washington Nationals were wither going to lose or were headed for their third exhibition game tie in as many days. Fortunately for the Nationals, scrappy utility player Clint Robinson had other plans in the ninth inning.
Brendan Ryan led off the ninth inning with a single for the Nationals. Soon after, catcher Jhonatan Solano drove him in with an RBI single, tying the game at 4-4. After a double by Trea Turner put two runners in scoring position, Robinson delivered — drilling a two-run double to right field and giving the Nationals a 6-4 lead.
Prior to their ninth inning fireworks, the Nationals were having a good day.
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Gio Gonzalez got the start for Washington and pitched well, though he struggled with his command at times. Gonzalez pitched four solid innings, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out four batters and walking four.
The Nationals’ offense got things going in the top of the third inning. Daniel Murphy drove in two runs with a one-out double in the third, before another RBI double — this time off the bat of Michael Taylor — gave the Nationals a 3-0 lead later in the inning.
Unfortunately for the Nationals, the Astros’ offense wasn’t going to stay quiet.
Houston scored a run in the bottom of the fourth on a solo homer by Marwin Gonzalez. Gonzalez struck again an inning later, trimming the Nationals’ lead to 3-2 with an RBI single up the middle.
The Nationals held Houston scoreless until the eighth inning, when top prospect Lucas Giolito was hit hard by the Astros. Former-National Eury Perez tied the game with an RBI single in the eighth. Preston Tucker followed with an RBI single of his own, giving Houston a 4-3 lead.
Fortunately for the Nationals, the offense came up big in the ninth to give Washington a win, improving their Spring Training record to 9-3. And in the realm of things that mean absolutely nothing, they trail Toronto by one game in the Grapefruit League standings.
The Nationals will be back at it tomorrow afternoon, when they face the Miami Marlins on the road at 1:05 p.m. ET.