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Blog: Halladay gets best of Strasburg as Nats fall to Phils

Wednesday - 3/6/2013, 10:04pm  ET

AP: d7412052-8b1f-46f6-b1f5-f5184f7124c8
Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg pitches during the second inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in Clearwater, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Craig Heist, wtop.com

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Roy Halladay out-pitched Stephen Strasburg throwing four scoreless innings as the Phillies beat the Nationals 6-3 at Bright House Field Wednesday.

If these two aces were to face each other during the regular season, it would be called a marquee matchup and while it was just an exhibition game, it wasn't without controversy.

Strasburg lasted 3 2/3 giving up 2 runs on five hits, walking one while striking out six. He threw 67 pitches, 40 for strikes. Meanwhile, Halladay threw four scoreless innings, walking one while fanning two.

In the third inning following a slow chopping ground ball to third by Michael Young which scored Tommy Joseph, Strasburg hit the next batter, Chase Utley down around the foot.

In the top of the fourth inning, Halladay then threw behind the back of Nationals DH Tyler Moore. Moore eventually doubled down the left field line.

These two teams have a history dating back to last year when the Phillies Cole Hamels drilled Bryce Harper in the back with a 93 mph fastball in a Sunday night, nationally televised game. Harper eventually stole home on Hamels in that inning as the left-hander was making a throw to first base to check the runner.

Later, Hamels admitted to hitting Harper on purpose, kind of a "welcome to the big leagues, kid," gesture.

While this was not anywhere near that kind of emotion, Nats manager Davey Johnson didn't think there was much behind any of what had happened.

"Nothing. I ask Moore because I didn't think anything, and I knew Strasburg didn't hit nobody on purpose. I ask Moore, is there a history there? He said, there is now.'" Johnson said laughing.

Later Johnson quipped, "Maybe Hamels is coaching him. What the heck." "I don't know why they'd think I was throwing at him," Strasburg said.

"Obviously, you can tell the conditions weren't great and I yanked it in there and, it's spring Training so, if you're going to throw at someone and send a message in Spring Training, go ahead."

Halladay has certainly been known for pin point control throughout his career and Moore appeared perplexed that the pitch was three feet behind him.

"I don't know," Moore said. "Maybe it slipped out of his hand. I don't know what was going on. I mean, it's Spring Training so I wouldn't think we would be throwing at me but it is what it is.

"I don't know if he was protecting his team or what but I know that he knows its Spring Training. He's a professional and he's done this for a long time and maybe it just slipped out of his hand."

The rivalry is alive and well

Last season the Nationals won more games than anyone in baseball and won the National League East with a record of 98-64.

The Phillies on the other hand, finished in 3rd place after going 81-81 in a season that saw them riddled with injuries - not only to the pitching staff but to several key players including Ryan Howard.

Jimmy Rollins had said after the end of last season, the Nats would have finished second if the Phillies had been healthy all season and Davey Johnson was ask if the Phillies have the Nationals on their minds.

"I don't know and it doesn't bother me at all," Johnson said. "There should be some focus on us, we on the pennant last year. Why not? We had our problems and they had their problems but we finished on top. But this is a whole new year and last year is history."

Rendon stays hot

Anthony Rendon started the day at shortstop for the Nats and hit his third home run of the spring in the sixth inning. Rendon is opening eyes with his .400 average.

"I'm just trying to go out here and have fun," Rendon said.

"I'm not looking at my numbers or anything like that. I'm just trying to go up there and put a good swing on the ball very chance I get."

Grab a Stros'

The Astros that is, in Kissimmee on Thursday. Gio Gonzalez will pitch his last game before joining Team USA at the World Baseball Classic. Gonzalez will be opposed by Phillip Humber at 1:05.

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