Harper, Norris homer as young starters duel

March 9th, 2017
Bryce Harper hit his third homer of the spring against the Marlins on Thursday. (AP)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- and hit solo home runs for the Nationals, and the Marlins rallied for a two-run fifth inning as the teams played to a 2-2 tie on Thursday afternoon at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Harper continued to look good at the plate this spring when he launched a solo home run to center field in the sixth inning. He is now hitting .316 with three home runs.

Norris followed with a solo shot off in the seventh inning for his second home run of the spring as he continues to make the best of an odd situation. The Nationals have too many catchers on their current 40-man roster, and with Matt Wieters set to begin the season as the starter, Norris is almost certain to be traded.

Nationals right-hander A.J. Cole allowed some hard contact, but he did not allow a hit in four innings in his third and best Grapefruit League start. The Marlins scored twice against his replacement, , on RBI singles from and .

In his first start this spring for the Marlins, and his third appearance overall, retired nine straight batters after walking the first batter he faced. The lefty made short work of the Nationals, throwing 31 pitches, 20 for strikes. The non-roster invitee has now thrown six innings this spring while giving up no runs on just one hit and two walks to go along with one strikeout.

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"He's aggressive, his body language is good, and obviously getting the results on top of that is really nice," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

Marlins Up Next: The Marlins are back in Jupiter for a 1:05 p.m. ET Friday game on a marlins.com audio webcast with the Twins at Roger Dean Stadium. Left-hander is scheduled to make his third start this spring, looking to add to his three innings of one-hit ball.

Nationals Up Next: Left-hander will try to continue what has been a strong start to the spring when the Nats host the Cards at 1:05 p.m. ET at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. In three starts, Gonzalez has tossed four scoreless innings with one strikeout. Right-hander Joe Blanton is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut.

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