Stras' three strong help Nats top Mets

Stras' three strong help Nats top Mets

VIERA, Fla. -- A two-out, two-run single off the bat of outfielder Chris Heisey punctuated a three-run third inning by the Nationals in their 9-5 victory over the Mets on Friday afternoon at Space Coast Stadium.

Heisey was pinch-hitting for Clint Robinson, one of the Nationals' position players making a third consecutive start as part of manager Dusty Baker's plan to stretch them out ahead of the season. Baker played most of his starters for only a few innings Friday to get their legs loose after Thursday's night game.

The Mets struck first in the top of the third, when Roger Bernadina began the inning with a leadoff double to right field and scored later in the inning on a single by Juan Lagares. It was the lone run allowed by right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who yielded three hits in three innings during his second Grapefruit League start.

Strasburg said pitching coach Mike Maddux has encouraged the Nationals pitchers to try new things on the mound. The righty would not go into specifics on what he was working on, other than trying to vary his time to home plate.

"I felt like I was kind of slower holding the ball, but I think I can do better," said Strasburg

Mets left-hander Steven Matz did not get an out in the third inning in his second start of the spring. After two scoreless innings, he began the third with a pair of walks and allowed a single to Scott Sizemore, leaving Antonio Bastardo in a no-outs, bases loaded jam. Matz was charged with all three runs on two hits and the two walks.

"You never care for walks," Matz said. "I just got a little erratic there. It's still early -- got something to work off there."

Matz loses command, Bastardo uneven in relief

In the sixth inning, Nationals right-hander Michael Brady got hit with a comebacker off the bat of T.J. Rivera. He left the game and was replaced by Felipe Rivero. Brady said the ball caught him directly on his left knee, but he's fine.

Washington tagged New York for five more runs in the eighth. Chris Bostick, Jason Martinson and Logan Schafer all smashed run-scoring doubles, and Tony Campana knocked home a two-run single.

The Nats called on Jonathan Papelbon to pitch the top of the ninth, but he gave up four runs (three earned) and was pulled with two outs.

Up Next for the Mets: On Saturday, the Mets will return to Port St. Lucie, Fla., to face the Cardinals, with Bartolo Colon scheduled to throw the game's first pitch at 1:10 p.m. ET. Also slated to pitch are Josh Smoker, Jeurys Familia and Gabriel Ynoa. Tyler Lyons is the Cardinals' projected starter. Watch the game live on MLB.TV.

Up Next for the Nationals: Tanner Roark will make his second Grapefruit League start (third appearance) when he faces the Braves on Saturday at Champion Stadium at 6:05 p.m. ET. Roark is competing for a spot in the Nationals' rotation, and he has certainly made an impression early. He has yet to allow a run and struck out six through five innings this spring. Listen to the game live on Gameday Audio.

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.