Jordan Zimmermann's dominant pitching has been one of the highlights at Washington Nationals camp. Brad Eldred's powerful swing is drawing attention, too.
Zimmermann, a prized prospect, extended his shutout streak to 8 1-3 innings in Grapefruit League action and Eldred homered for the second consecutive day as the Nationals and New York Mets played to a 5-all tie in 10 innings Tuesday.
After two perfect outings, Zimmermann allowed baserunners for the first time this spring and easily passed that test, demonstrating a veteran's poise in twice wiggling out of trouble during a stint of 3 1-3 innings.
"It was good to see him do that," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "He worked himself out of a couple of jams and it was good to see ... how he reacts in situations like that, especially in the first inning. That was impressive. He continues to impress everybody here."
Zimmermann allowed base hits to Cory Sullivan and Marlon Anderson to open the first, but retired the next three hitters, striking out a pair. After a 1-2-3 second, he allowed a one-out walk to Sullivan and Anderson's single in the third before getting Rob Mackowiak to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
Gustavo Chacin relieved Zimmermann with two on and one out in the fourth.
"It was different, that's for sure," said Zimmerman, who walked two and struck out four. "I got myself into a couple of binds early and they fouled a lot of pitches off, got my pitch count up today. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go all four innings."
Zimmermann has struck out 10 and walked two in 8 1-3 innings this spring, enhancing his candidacy for one of the final two spots in Washington's rotation.
Eldred, on the other hand, remains a long shot to crack the 25-man roster as a backup first baseman and pinch hitter. But he followed up Monday night's game-winning, two-run homer in the 10th inning with a three-run shot to right-center in the second, giving Zimmermann a 5-0 lead.
"That's my game, obviously _ just trying to get pitches to hit. I just want to put good wood on the ball," said Eldred, who is 4-for-11 (.363) this spring. "It gives me a good chance to drive something over the fence."
Elijah Dukes added a two-run homer, his first of the spring, and finished 3-for-4 for Washington. Sullivan and Anderson had three hits apiece for the Mets.
The Mets scored four runs off reliever Mike Hinckley in the seventh, ballooning the left-hander's ERA to 15.75, and tied the game on pinch hitter Daniel Murphy's RBI single off Jesus Colome in the ninth.
Mets right-hander John Maine, who said he felt out of sync with all his pitches in his start last Thursday against Italy's World Baseball Classic team, made progress in correcting a mechanical flaw during his windup and delivery.
He was hard hit in three innings, giving up five runs on five hits and a pair of walks, but felt much more comfortable than in his last outing. Maine blamed the homers by Pena and Eldred on poor pitch selection.
"It was frustrating, the results, but I felt good out there. I wasn't throwing the ball all over the place. If I was missing, I was just barely missing," Maine said. "It could have just as easily been 0-0 as it was 5-0."
Notes:@ The Nationals optioned LHP Mike O'Connor to Triple-A Syracuse and LHP Ross Detwiler to Double-A Harrisburg in their first round of cuts. Reassigned to minor league camp were LHP Justin Jones; RHPs Bobby Brownlie, Preston Larrison and J.D. Martin; C Javier Herrera; 1Bs Matt Whitney and Chris Marrero; and OF Destin Hood. The moves leave Washington with 58 players in camp. ... With Canada eliminated from the World Baseball Classic, INF Pete Orr could return to the Nationals by Wednesday. ... RHP Duaner Sanchez was released by the Mets. Sanchez will receive $276,639 in termination pay, rather than his salary of $1,687,500. ... OF Willie Harris returned to the Washington lineup after missing four games with a sore hip. ... LHP Ron Villone made his spring debut, tossing a scoreless seventh inning. The 39-year-old reliever was signed Friday to bolster the Mets' bullpen.
(This version CORRECTS Mets 5, Nationals 5, 10 innings; corrects to 5 hits in 14th graf.)
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