- Associated Press - Monday, March 10, 2014

VIERA, Fla. (AP) - Gio Gonzalez struck out the first five batters he faced then struggled to get out of the second inning as the Washington Nationals lost to the Houston Astros 7-3 Monday night.

Carlos Corporan followed George Springer’s two-out infield hit, which tipped off of Gonzalez‘ glove, with a two-run homer. Gonzalez then gave up a walk, a double and hit a batter to load the bases before escaping on a flyball out.

“That hit over the head stirred the pot,” Gonzalez said.

Up until Springer’s hit, the Nationals’ left-hander looked dominant.

“I feel like I went out there and attacked the strike zone,” he said after his second start. “(I am) right where I want to be. My arm felt great. Take away that one hit, I think the game would have been a little bit different.”

Of perhaps more concern to the Nationals is that closer Rafael Soriano had his second rough outing, giving up five runs on five hits in just 2-3 of an inning.

In his previous outing, Soriano gave up two runs on three hits in an inning. His spring ERA is now 37.80.

“Right now, I’m concerned about how he feels, not necessarily the results,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said. “He’s going to get a few outings this spring and I want him to progress arm strength-wise every time.”

From that standpoint, the outing was positive.

“When I asked him how he felt today, he said, ‘That’s the only good part of today,’” Williams said. “He’s fine.”

Houston starter Lucas Harrell allowed one run and recorded 10 groundball outs in four innings.


Astros: Harrell threw 49 pitches over four innings, then went to the bullpen and threw 10 more just to stretch his arm out just a little more.

The Astros right-hander gave up a run on two hits and recorded 10 of 12 outs on groundballs. Six of those grounders went to second baseman Gregorio Petit.

“He was everywhere,” Harrell said of Petit. “Every time they hit the ball, I felt like it didn’t matter if it was on the third base side, he was going to go get it.

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