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Harper homers, while Nats rally for Zimmermann

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Carlos Rivero's three-run double highlighted the five-run eighth inning that provided the Nationals a 6-5 comeback win over the Braves at Champion Stadium on Friday night.

After being limited to three hits through the first seven innings, the Nationals erupted against Cory Rasmus, who allowed three singles and issued two walks through the first five batters he faced in the eighth inning. Rasmus' troubles continued when Rivero drilled his decisive three-run double off the left-center-field wall.

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Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran strengthened his bid to win the fifth starter's spot by allowing just one run and recording five strikeouts in three innings. The 22-year-old right-hander threw 26 of his 34 pitches for strikes and struck out each of three batters he faced in the third inning. His only mistake came when Bryce Harper damaged him with a two-out, opposite-field, wind-aided home run in the first inning.

Jason Heyward tied the game with his own opposite-field home run in the bottom of the first against Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann, who allowed two earned runs and five hits in three innings. The Braves took the lead when Reed Johnson recorded one of the three singles Zimmermann surrendered in the second inning.

After homering for the third time in a span of 10 at-bats, Heyward displayed his speed in the fifth inning. He reached on a bunt single and raced home from first base when B.J. Upton doubled off the left-center-field wall against Ross Ohlendorf.

Up next: Gio Gonzalez will make his second start when the Nationals play the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Like in Game 5 of last year's National League Division Series, Gonzalez will be matched up against Adam Wainwright. Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond and Kurt Suzuki are all scheduled to make the trip.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper