Former National Livan Hernandez started and pitched two shutout innings as the Washington Nationals opened their Grapefruit League schedule with a 3-1 loss to the Houston Astros in Kissimmee, Fla. Saturday afternoon.
Edwin Jackson started for the Nationals and allowed one hit and two walks in two scoreless innings; while Hernandez scattered three hits over his two innings, striking out two.
The biggest blow of the game was a two-run home run by Chris Johnson off Ross Detwiler in the bottom of the fourth that broke a scoreless tie. The Nationals scored their only run of the game in the fifth inning after back-to-back doubles by Roger Bernadina and Jesus Flores made the score 2-1 Houston. The Astros closed the scoring in the bottom of the seventh, when Carlos Corporan reached on an error by Carlos Rivero. Brandon Barnes scored on the play to provide the final margin.
Jackson and Detwiler were followed by Chad Durbin, Atahualpa Severino, and Sean Burnett, who combined to allow one run on one hit in the game's final four innings. At the plate, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa batted in the top two spots in the order and went a combined 0-for-6. Bryce Harper batted seventh in the order and singled in his first at-bat before grounding out in his next two at-bats. Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse did not play.
The two teams hook up again Sunday afternoon in Viera.