Astros deploy long ball to pummel Nats
Pence hits two homers in same frame in Grapefruit opener
ASTROS 15, NATIONALS (ss) 5
at Kissimmee, Fla.
Thursday, March 4
Nationals at the plate: Roger Bernadina went 1-for-2 with two runs scored, and Adam Kennedy and Wil Nieves had one hit each. Designated hitter Josh Whitesell went 2-for-2 with a walk. Nyjer Morgan went 0-for-4 in the leadoff spot, and Elijah Dukes went 0-for-3 in the No. 3 spot in the batting order.Astros at the plate: With a stiff breeze blowing out to center field, the Astros pounded out 21 hits, including five home runs, against a Washington split-squad. Houston wiped out a 5-0 deficit by scoring nine runs in the fourth, with Hunter Pence (3-for-3) leading off the inning with a solo homer and adding a three-run homer later in the frame. Yordany Ramirez, Pedro Feliz, Edwin Maysonet and J.R. Towles each had two hits apiece. Jason Michaels went 3-for-3 with a homer. Nationals on the mound: Garrett Mock allowed three hits and no walks while throwing two scoreless innings. When Mock left the game, the wheels came off. Shairon Martis gave up six hits and six runs in 1 1/3 innings, and Joel Peralta allowed three hits and three runs in two-thirds of an inning. Matt Capps made his Washington debut and allowed three hits and two runs in one inning. Eddie Guardado also got roughed up, allowing three runs and four hits in one inning. Astros on the mound: Brett Myers made his first start in an Astros uniform and allowed three runs (two earned), three walks, one hit and struck out one batter in two innings. Myers enjoyed a 1-2-3 first inning before he walked three batters in the second. Alberto Arias and Chris Sampson each gave up a run in one inning, and Sammy Gervacio, Gary Majewski, Roy Corcoran, Wesley Wright and Casey Daigle pitched scoreless innings. Worth noting: The Astros took advantage of the wind blowing toward the outfield and some suspect Washington pitching by hitting five home runs, which equaled the number of hits the Nationals had. Pence homered twice in the fourth inning, leading the Astros' nine-run outburst in the frame. Michaels homered in the fifth, Ramirez hit a three-run homer in the seventh and Chris Johnson went deep in the eighth. Grapefruit League records: Astros 1-0, Nationals 0-2. Up next: Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, the Astros' Pitcher of the Year in 2009, will make his first start of the spring on Friday against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., at 12:05 p.m. CT. Rodriguez will be followed by Tim Byrdak, Jeff Fulchino, Matt Lindstrom, Shane Loux, Yorman Bazardo, Polin Trinidad and Jose Valdez.
Lance Berkman is expected to make his spring debut for the Astros and is scheduled to get two at-bats as the designated hitter. Berkman missed Thursday's opener with a knee bruise, but should return to action against the Tigers. Houston will still be without Carlos Lee, who's in Houston to show cattle at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Washington stays on the road on Friday, moving a few miles to the west to play the Atlanta Braves in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., at 1:05 p.m. ET. Miguel Batista is scheduled to make his first start of the spring for the Nationals, who will face Derek Lowe.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.