3/4/2014 4:19 P.M. ET
Strasburg shows no rust in first spring start
Desmond homers; Williams experiments with late-game defensive shift
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Phil Gosselin foiled Matt Williams' defensive shift with a three-run triple in the eighth inning that gave the Braves a lead they wouldn't relinquish on their way to recording their first Grapefruit League win of the year with Tuesday's 8-4 victory over the Nationals at Champion Stadium.
With the bases loaded and one out, the Nationals brought in right fielder Steven Souza to serve as an extra infielder. Gosselin promptly drilled his game-winning triple off Luis Ayala to an abandoned right field.
The Nationals gained a two-run lead when Christian Bethancourt was unable to handle Dan Uggla's attempt to prevent Brian Goodwin from scoring on a double steal in the seventh inning. But the Braves erased the deficit when Andrelton Simmons hit a two-run double off Drew Storen in the bottom half of the inning.
Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg completed two scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League season debut. Justin Upton's one-out single in the second inning accounted for the only hit surrendered by Strasburg, who concluded his outing by getting Chris Johnson to ground into a double play.
Like Strasburg, Kris Medlen did not seem to alter his approach despite the fact that he was pitching against an opponent he will likely face many times during the regular season. Ian Desmond's one-out double in the first inning was the only hit Medlen surrendered in three scoreless innings.
Desmond highlighted a three-hit performance with a homer in the fifth inning off Cory Gearrin, who also allowed Washington to gain a brief lead with a two-run fourth inning. Singles by Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman helped the Nationals load the bases in the fourth before Gearrin recorded his first out courtesy of Adam LaRoche's RBI groundout.
The Braves quickly erased the deficit by scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth, which began with Taylor Jordan surrendering four straight hits. After B.J. Upton and Freddie Freeman singled, Evan Gattis laced a double down the left-field line. Freeman scored all the way from first base when Bryce Harper bobbled the ball in the corner.
Up next: Jayson Werth and Gio Gonzalez will make their Grapefruit League debuts when the Nationals host the Mets on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Werth missed the first five games with a strained right biceps. As he prepares for his third season with Washington, Gonzalez will be scheduled to complete two innings. The Nationals' hitters will get a look at Mets starter Jenrry Mejia.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.