White feels comfortable after four-inning outing

VIERA, Fla. -- Alex White scattered seven hits over four innings against the Nationals on Thursday and came away from his fourth outing with a better feeling for his repertoire of pitches.

The right-hander, fighting for a spot in the Astros' rotation in his first spring with the club, surrendered two runs -- one via the long ball -- while striking out one. He threw 68 pitches, 43 for strikes.

"You've got to throw a lot of strikes to get these guys out," White said after Houston's 6-3 loss. "If you get behind in counts, they're gonna hurt you. When I got hurt today, it was because I was behind in the count. I gotta pitch ahead and be effective."

Jayson Werth homered in the first inning, and three singles in the second accounted for the second run. But White said he threw more splitters against the Nationals than he has in the past, and that pitch is rounding into form. He said the changeup was inconsistent, but believes it will get to where he needs it in time for the regular season.

"I think the stuff was tremendous today," manager Bo Porter said. "I talked to [catcher Jason Castro] after the game, and Castro talked about the late life of his sinker, his split. He worked down in the zone and did a tremendous job for four solid innings against a really good hitting ballclub."

White, 24, has a 6.97 ERA this spring after allowing eight earned runs on 17 hits over 10 1/3 innings in Grapefruit League play.

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