Taylor, Zim highlight bats; Cole off his game

Taylor, Zim highlight bats; Cole off his game

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Jon Kemmer belted a three-run homer and Brian McCann added a solo blast to lead the Astros to an 8-2 win over the Nationals on Wednesday at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Kemmer highlighted a five-run third inning with his first Grapefruit League homer and McCann went 3-for-3 (finishing a triple shy of the cycle) with two RBIs. His blast, the second in as many days, came in the first inning and gave the Astros a 1-0 lead.

Both homers came off Nats starter A.J. Cole, who gave up seven runs on six hits and three walks over 3 2/3 innings. He was coming off what was easily his best Grapefruit League outing, throwing four no-hit innings against the Marlins last Thursday, but said he did not have this stuff from the outset on Wednesday.

"My pitches weren't as sharp," Cole said. "I had a little bit of command with all my pitches. Pitches just weren't sharp."

Astros starter Joe Musgrove, battling for a rotation spot, worked four innings, allowing two runs on three hits. He walked two and struck out two in his fourth Grapefruit League appearance and first against a team other than the Mets, whom he blanked over three innings of one-hit ball (four strikeouts) in his previous outing.

Musgrove on outing against Nats

"He's continuing to state his case," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "All he's really got to do is control what he can control and do what he does best. He's putting up an excellent showing. He's one of the better pitchers that we have as a rotation candidate. We'll see at the end of camp where he ends up."

Ryan Zimmerman singled for his first Grapefruit League hit in the second, and he scored on Michael Taylor's triple. Taylor then scored on Stephen Drew's single for the Nationals' only runs of the afternoon. Zimmerman added a double in the sixth to finish the day 2-for-3.

Nationals Up Next: Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will try to continue his strong spring when the Nationals host the Mets on Thursday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. In three starts, Gonzalez has allowed one run, struck out five and walked two in seven innings.

Astros Up Next: The Astros have an off-day on Thursday, and they come back on Friday with a split squad. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel throws against Atlanta in a 12:05 p.m. CT game at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches (live on MLB.TV) while right-hander Brad Peacock gets the start against Boston in a 12:05 p.m. CT start at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Astros on Wednesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.