Strasburg cruises in Nationals' loss to Astros

Strasburg cruises in Nationals' loss to Astros

VIERA, Fla. -- Right-hander Stephen Strasburg was dominant on the mound, but the Astros scored three runs in the eighth inning and defeated the Nationals, 4-2, at Space Coast Stadium on Saturday evening.

The Nationals had a 2-1 lead when the Astros went ahead in the eighth inning off reliever Drew Storen. With one out and runners on first and second, Carlos Correa, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 First Year Player Draft, singled to left field, scoring Jose Martinez.

Correa and Trevor Crowe would later score when Rene Garcia hit a two-run single to left field. Storen has now allowed four runs in his last two innings.

Strasburg lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowed one run on five hits, struck out eight batters and walked one. He threw 93 pitches, 64 for strikes. At one point, Strasburg struck out five consecutive hitters before Astros outfielder Rick Ankiel hit a 2-2 pitch over the right-field wall for his second home run of the spring.

Houston's pitchers were just as consistent on the mound, allowing two runs on five hits in the game. Starter Lucas Harrell pitched four shutout, no-hit innings and struck out three batters.

But the Nationals were able to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning against Josh Fields. Washington had the bases loaded with two outs and it looked like Houston going to get out of the inning when Adam LaRoche popped up in front of home plate. Third baseman Marwin Gonzalez appeared to have a bead on it, but the ball hit Gonzalez's glove and dropped for an error, which allowed Denard Span to score and tie the game at 1.

Ian Desmond followed and singled to left field, scoring Tyler Moore to make it a one-run game.

Up next: The Nationals travel to Lakeland, Fla., on Sunday to play the Tigers for the second time this spring. With Team USA out of the World Baseball Classic, Nationals left-hander Ross Detwiler will get to work right away and pitch against Detroit at 1:05 p.m. ET. As of now, he is slated to be the fifth starter in Washington's rotation, while Dan Haren will be the fourth starter, according to manager Davey Johnson. Haren is ahead of Detwiler because Haren has more experience.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.