WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Adam Eaton and Bryce Harper homered as the Nationals beat the Astros, 5-4, on Sunday afternoon at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.Drew Ward hit the last of the game's four homers with a game-tying solo shot to left with two outs in the eighth
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Adam Eaton and Bryce Harper homered as the Nationals beat the Astros, 5-4, on Sunday afternoon at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Drew Ward hit the last of the game's four homers with a game-tying solo shot to left with two outs in the eighth inning off Houston's Brad Peacock. Andrew Stevenson provided the walk-off hit in the ninth.
A.J. Reed's two-out grand slam off Jacob Turner in the seventh erased a three-run deficit for the Astros.
"That's what this spring is for, to force their hand and play well," said Reed, who's battling for a roster spot. "Right now, I'm playing well, and I just have to keep it up and see what happens at the end of spring."
Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, who had a disappointing 2016 after winning the AL Cy Young Award in '15, pitched three shutout innings in his first Grapefruit League start. Keuchel missed last September with shoulder inflammation, but he looked strong against a stacked Nationals lineup, allowing only one hit -- a third-inning leadoff double by Stephen Drew -- before inducing three consecutive groundouts to end his day.
Nationals starter Joe Ross also put together a stout outing, permitting two hits and one walk with four strikeouts over four scoreless innings.
Eaton gave Washington a 1-0 lead with a leadoff homer in the fourth off James Hoyt that wrapped around the left-field foul pole for his first round-tripper. The Nationals then loaded the bases with two outs, but Hoyt pitched out of the jam by getting Matt Wieters, who was making his Nationals debut, to pop out to second.
Harper extended the Nationals' advantage to 3-0 when he turned on a 2-2 pitch from Reymin Guduan and deposited it onto the grassy berm beyond the right-center field fence for a two-run homer, his fifth this spring.
Astros Up Next:Charlie Morton makes his third start of the spring when the Astros face the Cardinals at 12:05 p.m. CT on Monday at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. The game can be seen live on MLB.TV. Morton has thrown five scoreless innings, allowing one hit, two walks and striking out five batters this spring.
Nationals Up Next:Stephen Strasburg will be on the mound for his third spring start at 1:05 p.m. on Monday when the Nationals host the Tigers at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. It can be heard live on Gameday Audio. Strasburg had a rough outing his last time out, allowing six runs on seven hits against the Cardinals. The Tigers will counter with Justin Verlander.
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Steve Dorsey is a contributor to MLB.com.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.