KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) Max Scherzer needed 37 pitches to get through the first inning of his second spring training start but allowed just one run Tuesday in the Washington Nationals' 4-2 win over the Houston Astros.
Jose Altuve and George Springer started with singles, and Colby Rasmus singled with one out. After a walk to Carlos Gomez loaded the bases, A.J. Reed grounded to third in a 13-pitch at-bat, and Jason Martinson threw home for the forceout. Scherzer then struck out Jon Singleton on a changeup after Singleton just missed a grand slam on the preceding pitch.
''In a high pitch-count situation, you have guys that are battling you, and you have to execute pitches in a bases-loaded situation, that's stuff that gets you ready for the season,'' Scherzer said. ''So even though I might not have liked the results so much today, this start prepared me as well as anything for the season.''
Reed is a 22-year-old first baseman who has yet to play at even Triple-A.
''If I face him again we're going to have some fun,'' Scherzer said. ''He got to see everything. I would enjoy facing him again. It was a great battle. A 13-pitch at bat? That's a great experience in spring, especially if he's an up-and-coming guy. I mean, that's fun! That's what this game is about.''
Scherzer retired the side in order in the second. He allowed three hits in two innings, struck out two and walked one. He threw 51 pitches.
''We probably stole an inning away from Scherzer today,'' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. ''I know he wanted to go three innings.''
Houston starter Doug Fister gave up one run and two hits in three innings, struck out three and walked three.
Pinch-hitter Derek Fisher homered for the Astros.
Houston's Doug Fister, making his second start, gave up one run and two hits in three innings, struck out three and walked three.
A sore forearm relegated Fister to the disabled list and the bullpen for much of last season with the Nationals, but he has a spot in the Houston rotation.
''I feel great,'' he said. ''I spent a lot of time this offseason working with physical therapists and guys that are just trying to get me healthy. I still have to build upon where I'm at, but I'm excited to be here.''
Astros: RHP Luke Gregerson is at least a week from making his first spring training appearance after straining his oblique early in camp. Gregerson saved 31 games last season and three more in the postseason. The Astros acquired closer Ken Giles from Philadelphia in December.
Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez faces Detroit.
Astros: Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel gets his second start, against Atlanta.