The wind blows a towel off New York Mets left fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis' head as he and teammates David Wright, left, and Matt den Dekker watch an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Washington Nationals Thursday, March 12, 2015, in Port S
John Bazemore
March 12, 2015

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer hit solo home runs in the New York Mets' 11-9 win over the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

It was the first home run of spring training for both players and the first homer for Cuddyer in a Mets uniform. The two-time All-Star, who won the NL batting title with Colorado in 2013, signed a $21 million, two-year deal with New York this offseason.

''It was first pitch, a little cutter and fortunately I didn't miss it,'' Cuddyer said of his fourth-inning shot to left field off Evan Meek. ''It always feel good getting that first one, whether its spring training or regular season. It's nice to get a hit, get a homer and move on.''

New York's Jacob deGrom, the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, allowed two runs and three hits in three innings, struck out five and walked one. DeGrom struck out five of his first seven batters, then gave up a two-run double to Michael Taylor in the third inning.

''I had command of all my pitches and I felt really good,'' deGrom said. ''I gave up one that was hit really hard. It was just a slider - a pretty good slider - and he took a swing at it.''

Nationals starter A.J. Cole allowed one run, four hits and two walks in 1 2-3 innings. Cole started in place of Stephen Strasburg, who did not make the trip because of an ingrown toenail.

Danny Espinosa homered for the Nationals and scored two runs. Juan Lagares had three hits for the Mets.

STARTING TIME

Cole, rated as the second-best prospect in the Nationals organization by Baseball Prospectus, could tell he didn't have his best stuff as soon as he started warming up.

''The whole game in general, when I went into it, I wasn't feeling great,'' Cole said. ''You're always going to have those days, so you just work with what you have and fight through everything.''

New York loaded the bases in each of the first two innings against Cole but was unable to score. Cole got John Mayberry Jr. to ground into an inning-ending double play in the first.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Denard Span (core muscle tear) returned to Nationals camp a day earlier than expected to begin rehabbing from surgery. Manager Matt Williams said it was too soon to know a timeline for Span's return to action.

Williams said Strasburg was held out of Thursday's game because the team didn't want him to worry about covering first base. Strasburg pitched a simulated game in Viera.

Mets first baseman Lucas Duda (strained intercostal muscle) played in a simulated game Thursday and hopes to make his exhibition season debut Sunday.

NOTABLE

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was at Mets camp Thursday and sat in owner Fred Wilpon's suite during the game. ... Mets prospect Steven Matz allowed two runs in three innings. ... The Mets scored nine runs in the eighth inning, highlighted by Alex Castellanos' two-run homer. Clint Robinson hit a grand slam in the ninth for the Nationals.

QUOTABLE

''Our guys have made no mention of it,'' Williams said when asked about the new pace-of-play rules. ''We haven't had a discussion on the bench as to, `Boy, this really bothers me.' It's fine. Get a good pitch, whack it, run as hard as you can to first base, let the next guy drive you around. That's kind of our theory. It's pretty simple stuff.''

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