Gio fans five in two innings before Soriano struggles
Left-hander has strikeout pitch working vs. Astros; closer allows five runs in sixth
VIERA, Fla. -- Jonathan Villar drove in three runs and helped the Astros defeat the Nationals, 7-4, at Space Coast Stadium on Monday evening.
Left-hander Gio Gonzalez started for Washington and was given a 1-0 lead in the first inning. With right-hander Lucas Harrell on the mound, Denard Span led off with a double and later scored on a groundout by Bryce Harper. But Harrell shut down Washington for the next three innings.
Gonzalez got off to a great start, striking out the first five hitters he faced. Suddenly, Gonzalez had a tough time getting the third out in the second inning. After allowing an infield single to George Springer, Carlos Corporan swung at a 1-0 pitch and hit a two-run homer to give Houston a one-run lead.
The Astros then added to their lead against closer Rafael Soriano by scoring five runs in the top of the sixth inning. Villar highlighted the scoring with a three-run double. Soriano lasted just two-thirds of an inning and allowed five hits.
The Nationals made it a five-run game in the sixth inning. With right-hander Michael Foltynewicz on the mound, Steven Souza Jr. hit a home run.
An inning later, with right-hander Josh Zeid on the mound, Will Rhymes scored on a single by Jhonatan Solano to cut the deficit to four runs. The Nationals added a run in the ninth to cap the scoring.
Up next: The Nationals return to Space Coast Stadium on Tuesday afternoon to play the Yankees at 1:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV. The last time these two teams faced each other was March 3, with the Yankees winning the game, 4-2. On Tuesday, Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann will face New York's CC Sabathia. In his last start against the Braves, Zimmermann pitched three shutout innings and struck out four batters in a 3-2 loss.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.