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Nationals offense explodes in win over Colorado

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Nationals offense explodes in win over Colorado

DENVER (AP) -- Yunel Escobar homered and drove in four runs to help the Washington Nationals end a six-game losing streak with a 15-6 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night.

Michael A. Taylor hit a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning and the Nationals capitalized on a lack of control by Rockies pitchers in a four-run eighth to turn a close game into a rout.

Bryce Harper walked a career-high four times, scoring each time to help Jordan Zimmerman (9-8) come away with the victory despite allowing six runs in six innings.

Jose Reyes had four hits, including his first home run as a member of the Rockies. Kyle Parker and Carlos Gonzalez also homered for the Rockies. Gonzalez was lifted in the sixth inning because of inflammation in his right knee and was listed as day to day.

Forging the game's third tie, Parker homered off Zimmerman to lead off the sixth but Washington went back in front in its next at bat on Taylor's RBI single off reliever Justin Miller (1-2) who had put a runner in scoring position by issuing two walks.

The Nationals drew three more walks -- one intentional -- that were issued by Tommy Kahnle, and benefited from a balk call on Scott Oberg while batting around in the eighth and tacking on four runs.

In all, Rockies pitchers walked 10 Nationals, including two more in the ninth, when they added four more runs.

MORE NATIONALS: EXAMINING WASHINGTON'S STRUGGLE BY THE NUMBERS

Danny Espinosa doubled for the second time in the game in the fourth, scoring Jayson Werth to snap a 4-4 tie.

Washington added another run in the fifth, helped by two wild pitches by David Hale, the second of which allowed Ian Desmond to score from third. Hale, reinstated from the disabled list (groin strain) prior to the game, allowed six runs on eight hits in five innings.

Escobar homered in the first following a two-out walk to Harper but Colorado regained the lead in its half of the inning behind Gonzalez's two-run homer and a fielding error by shortstop Desmond leading to an unearned run.

Reyes' solo homer in the second was his first since being acquired by Colorado in the trade deadline deal that sent Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto, putting the Rockies up 4-2. The Nationals answered in the third with successive RBI singles by Escobar and Desmond to even it up.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Aaron Barrett's rehab from a right elbow sprain has been put on hold. Manager Matt Williams said Barrett was visiting with doctors and undergoing a round of tests to try to get a better handle on the problem. "Last time he went out and pitched, he didn't feel good," Williams said.

Rockies: Centerfielder Charlie Blackmon was held out of the starting lineup because of illness before entering in the sixth in place of the injured Gonzalez. ... RHP Chad Bettis, on the 15-day disabled list since mid-July because of inflammation in his pitching elbow, was slated to throw 80-85 pitches Thursday in a rehab start for Triple A Albuquerque.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg is slated to make his seventh career start against Colorado. He's 3-3 with a 2.77 ERA in his six previous starts against the Rockies.

Rockies: LHP Jorge De La Rosa has enjoyed past success against the Nationals, going 5-2 with a 4.12 ERA in nine career starts against them.

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Astros wade through first boo-filled night of many to come

Astros wade through first boo-filled night of many to come

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The only agreed upon factor of Saturday night’s spring training opener was affinity for Dusty Baker. 

Baker, alone at home plate to receive a ceremonial first pitch, raised his hand to the crowd when announced. Both sides cheered. Those in red stood, some shouted his name. Others on the Houston side could unabashedly applaud Baker. He represented what’s next, not what was.

But the past chased the Astros from the second the ballpark opened. Any Houston highlights were followed by hefty boos. “FOR THE H” flashed on the right-center field video board during the evening on what was supposed to be an Astros “home” game. However, there was nothing warm and fuzzy about the location for the Astros, an experience sure to track them outside of Houston throughout the season.

The Astros were booed en masse since Baker did not play any of his regulars. Myles Straw, Jeremy Pena and Taylor Jones began the game against Max Scherzer. It’s difficult to let Nos. 3, 89 and 79, respectively, have it on the first night of spring training. But, those on the team in 2017 remained safely in the dugout, prompting an expansion of targets.

Before Scherzer began his night, the Astros’ mascot, Orbit, ran across the face of the Washington dugout with an oversized Houston flag. He, too, was booed -- with fervor. Anything representing the Astros was in play since their main facets were not on the field.

Two signs carried by Nationals fans were taken by a ballpark employee. Some Washington fans banged on their seats during the game to mimic the Astros’ prior method for stealing signs. Scherzer thought something colorful had a chance to leak into the setting.

“I figured something like that was going to happen,” Scherzer said. “I got a good taste of what it’s like [when] facing [Bryce Harper] last year when we had our whole crowd going. I thought our fans would boo. I didn’t realize it was going to be that loud when I face Harp. That was a playoff atmosphere. Everything gets turned up a notch when the fans get into it.”

Scherzer threw 22 pitches, 13 for strikes in two innings. He allowed a single and struck out two batters he’s unlikely to ever face again. Otherwise, he was nonplussed to face the Astros in a game rain forced to pause, then stop, after two innings and a head-scratching delay.

“We won the World Series,” Scherzer said. “It wasn’t like I have a vendetta to hold. So, for me, over here we’re just trying to move forward and get ready for our season.”

Baker thought the reception went as expected.

“There were a lot of Nationals fans here,” Baker said. “We had a lot of fans here, too. You could tell who was for us and who was against us. All in all, it wasn’t too bad. You kind of expect to get some. But they weren’t too bad, though.”

So, the night ultimately served as the expected start. Scherzer pitched well. The Astros were booed.

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Astros booed, fans' signs taken in spring training opener against Nationals

Astros booed, fans' signs taken in spring training opener against Nationals

As if this week hadn’t already been bad enough for the Houston Astros, it got a bit worse on Saturday afternoon when they faced the Washington Nationals in the spring training opener. 

The Astros took the field at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and were welcomed by the fans with an eruption of boos. The two teams share the facility, but it was Houston's home game. 

Since 2017 Washington and Houston have shared their spring training facility in West Palm Beach and made it a tradition to kick off their respective Grapefruit League schedules against each other. They will play six times this spring - though Saturday's opener was postponed by rain after a scoreless two innings. 

One courageous fan really got into the act, holding up a sign reading "Houston *'s" that was eventually confiscated by ballpark personnel, according to the Associated Press.

If this start is any indication of what they will face throughout this season, it's going to be a long 2020 for the Astros. 

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