Bill Ladson

Villar goes 1-for-2, notches RBI vs. Nationals

Appel yields one run, settles down after up-and-down first inning

Villar goes 1-for-2, notches RBI vs. Nationals

VIERA, Fla. -- Clint Robinson's RBI triple in the seventh inning helped the Nationals edge the Astros, 2-1, at Space Coast Stadium on Monday afternoon.

The score was tied at 1 when the Nationals took the lead against left-hander Kevin Chapman. After Tony Gwynn Jr. reached base on a single, Robinson tripled to center field, scoring Gwynn to make it a one-run game.

Mark Appel, the first overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, made his first Grapefruit League start with the Astros. The right-hander allowed one run on two hits, fanned one and walked two over two innings.

Washington found the scoreboard first, as Michael Taylor hit a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first and then scored on Ian Desmond's sacrifice fly.

Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann started for Washington and was solid, pitching four innings and allowing one unearned on three hits, striking out three batters and walking one.

Zimmermann knocks down liner

The Nationals received a scare in the third inning as Robbie Grossman hit a line drive that was headed toward Zimmermann's face, but he blocked it with his glove and then tried to throw Grossman out at first base. Zimmermann's throw sailed past first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and went up the first-base line, allowing Grossman to go all the way to third base. Grossman then scored on a single by Jonathan Villar to tie the score at 1.

Up next: Roberto Hernandez will continue his push to secure the final spot in the club's starting rotation when the Astros travel to Bradenton to face the Pirates at 12:05 p.m. CT at McKechnie Field. Hernandez has made two relief appearances, totaling a 3.60 ERA over five innings of work. The game will also be televised on MLB.TV.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.