KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Stephen Strasburg has that feeling again, the one that made him a phenom in 2010 before injuring his elbow.
Healthy again, he just needs to get his command back to where it was when he got the call up to the major leagues.Strasburg gave up two homers and allowed four runs in four innings Wednesday night as the Braves defeated the Nationals 6-5, his ERA for three spring starts rising to 7.45."My arm feels so good, I'm overthrowing," said Strasburg. "Once it clicks, I'll be fine."Dan Uggla hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Jason Heyward connected with no one on in the fourth. Strasburg, gave up five hits and four runs, walking two and striking out one.Nationals manager Davey Johnson said that Strasburg's only problem is a lack of control -- and a little stubbornness.Strasburg didn't disagree with either assessment, especially about trying to throw his fastball by everyone when his command isn't quite there yet.On Uggla's homer to right field, Strasburg said: "I wanted to blow it by him."Strasburg threw 73 pitches and he lost the strike zone in his last two innings, when 21 of his 44 pitches were balls."It's going to get better," Strasburg said. "I have to remind myself that it is spring training."After hitting just four homers while starting the spring 1-10-1, the Braves connected for three against the Nationals. Jordan Parraz tied the game with a homer in the eighth inning and Luis Durango soon followed with the winning hit.Chipper Jones got his first hit of the spring. The switch-hitting third baseman, hitless in his first 10 at-bats, bounced a single through the infield off left-handed reliever Tom Gorzelanny leading off the fifth inning. Jones, who turns 40 next month, has been bothered by a sore right knee all spring.Uggla also had a sacrifice fly and Heyward, who came in batting .143, added a double.Chad Tracy and Jesus Flores homered for Washington in the fourth inning off Braves rookie starter Julio Teheran, who allowed six homers against Detroit in his spring debut two starts ago. Teheran gave up five hits and three runs in his four innings, walking two and striking out two.Fellow Braves pitching prospect Randall Delgado followed and allowed four hits and two runs over four innings, walking three and striking out five. Teheran has an 11.00 ERA and Delgado is only a little better at 9.00.Top Nationals prospect Bryce Harper returned to the lineup after missing a week with a strained left calf and played center field for the first time this spring. He was 0 for 2 with a walk after having five hits in 11 at-bats before being sidelined.Rick Ankiel is out with a tight hamstring and Johnson has been anxious to see how the 19-year-old Harper, normally a right fielder, looks in the middle of the outfield."As far as I'm concerned, anybody that can throw and run like he can should have experience at all the outfield positions," Johnson said.Roger Bernadina or Ankiel is expected to open the season as Washington's center fielder, with Michael Morse in left field and Jayson Werth in right field. But Harper, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2010, hopes to push himself into the mix.
Former Braves outfielder and two-time National League MVP Dale Murphy shared a memorable moment with son Jake before the game. After throwing out the ceremonial pitch to his father, Jake got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. . Bernadina was a late scratch from the Nationals' lineup. He had a tooth removed Tuesday and was reportedly feeling light-headed. . Braves rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons had two hits and also turned in a pair of defensive gems. . Eric O'Flaherty pitched a perfect ninth inning for the save. . The Braves reduced their spring roster to 50 by optioning pitcher Eric Cordier to Triple-A Gwinnett and sending outfielders Stefan Gartrell and Todd Cunningham, pitcher Jason Rice and catcher Matt Kennelly to minor league camp.