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Simmons leads early charge, but pitching falters

Nationals jump on Maya to pull away in fifth inning against split Braves squad

VIERA, Fla. -- Danny Espinosa had his best game of the spring as he helped the Nationals defeat the Braves, 8-2, at Space Coast Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Espinosa went 1-for-2, including a walk, and was involved in two of the runs. With the score tied at 2 in the fourth inning, Espinosa led off with a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch by Juan Jamie. After Eury Perez reached base on an error by shortstop Andrelton Simmons, Chris Snyder hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Espinosa.

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In the fifth, Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run homer and Adam LaRoche followed with a solo shot off former Nats reliever Yunesky Maya.

Left-hander Ross Detwiler started for Washington and pitched two-plus innings, allowing a run on six hits. The run scored in the first when Simmons came around on a single by Evan Gattis.

Right-hander Taylor Jordan was outstanding for the Nats, allowing a run in three innings and striking out six. The run scored in the fourth on Jose Yepez's RBI single, plating Matt Lipka.

David Hale started for Atlanta, allowing two runs on four hits over two innings.

Up next: Kris Medlen and Craig Kimbrel are both scheduled to pitch when the Braves travel to Port St. Lucie, Fla., to play the Mets on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ET (live on MLB.TV). Medlen will aim to go four innings in another tuneup for what is expected to be his first Opening Day start. B.J. Upton, Evan Gattis and Andrelton Simmons are all expected to be a part of an Atlanta lineup that will get a look at Mets starter Zack Wheeler.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

Atlanta Braves, Evan Gattis, David Hale, Yunesky Maya, Andrelton Simmons, Jose Yepez