Harper, Heyward homer in Nats’ 6-5 win over Braves
Harper homered for Washington, Heyward went deep for Atlanta in addition to playing small ball, and the Nationals knocked off the Braves 6-5 in a spring training game Friday night.
Harper hit his first homer of the spring in the top of the first inning. He finished 1 for 3, leaving his exhibition average at .538 (7 of 13).
“Harp came to camp swinging the bat good,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.
Heyward hit his third spring homer in the bottom half of the first. But he was more proud of getting down a bunt in the fifth, setting up B.J. Upton’s two-run double.
“If I’m going to hit in the two-hole, I’m going to see some different things,” Heyward said. “I’d like to execute them more times than not.”
Zimmermann surrendered five hits and two runs in three innings. But he struck out four and got some odd swings out of the Braves when he went to the changeup, a new pitch in his repertoire.
“He threw some really good changeups to lefties and righties,” Johnson said. “Adding this pitch makes him that much tougher.”
Julio Teheran also looked tough, striking out five in three innings to strengthen his bid for the fifth spot in the Atlanta rotation. In his two spring starts, he’s allowed only one hit and one run—Harper’s homer—in five innings. He has seven strikeouts and only one walk.
The 22-year-old right-hander has already impressed one of his new teammates.
“He’s got good control,” Upton said. “He can pretty much threw the ball where he wants to. He commands his pitches. With what he showed me today, he’s going to have a good year. I’m sure he’s going to be a big part of our team.”
More troubling for the Braves is the early play of Dan Uggla who struck out all four times he came to the plate. The second baseman has now fanned 10 times in 16 at-bats, after a disappointing season in 2012.
The Nationals wiped out a 4-1 deficit with a five-run eighth against loser Cory Rasmus. Carlos Rivera had the big hit, a three-run double.
Atlanta tried to rally in the ninth against Jeremy Accardo Todd Cunningham came through with a run-scoring single, and Jordan Parraz hit a two-out bouncer up the middle that looked like it might bring home the tying run.
But second baseman Will Rhymes made a diving stop behind the bag, forcing Joey Terdoslavich to scramble back to third. With the bases loaded, Elmer Reyes ground out weakly to the mound, ending the game.
Fernando Abad picked up the win, and Accardo was credited with a shaky save.
NOTES: Ross Ohlendorf went two innings for Washington, giving up three hits and two runs. … Rasmus got only one out in the eighth, surrendering four hits and walking two. … The Nationals had only three hits through the first seven innings and were out-hit 13-7 overall. … Dusty Hughes David Carpenter, Ryan Buchter, Daniel Rodriguez and Aaron Northcraft threw scoreless innings for the Braves. … Kris Medlen expected to be Atlanta’s opening-day pitcher, will make his second start of the spring against the Astros on Saturday. … The Nationals will send Gio Gonzalez to the mound in Saturday’s game against St. Louis.
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963