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.
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: After a day off on Tuesday, the Astros will face the Nationals again on Wednesday, this time back home in Kissimmee, Fla., at 12:05 p.m. CT, live on MLB.TV. Right-hander Jerome Williams will make his first start of the spring after giving up two runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings in two relief appearances. He has struck out six and walked none. Fellow newcomers Chad Qualls and Anthony Bass are scheduled to follow Williams, along with Jorge De Leon. The game also will feature the use of expanded instant replay.
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.