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Purke makes first minor league start

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Purke makes first minor league start

Nationals pitching prospect and 2011 third round pick Matt Purke made his first minor league start as a member of the organization on Thursday. It was a much awaited debut for the young lefty, but the results were a little ugly.

Purke took the loss for Single-A Hagerstown after allowing five earned runs to the Greensboro Grasshoppers. He gave up seven hits, five walks, a home run and struck out just one batter in the afternoon game.

Purke had been at Nationals' extended spring training in Florida to start the year because of past shoulder issues. The 21-year-old Texas Christian product was selected 96th overall by Washington last season and signed a four-year, 4 million deal in August.

The Nationals believe Purke to be a fast-rising prospect and hope for him to reach the big leagues as early as next season. He was signed above slot to convince him to leave college as before he arrived at TCU he was picked 14th overall by the Texas Rangers in 2009. Purke declined the offer and went on to have a stellar freshman year with the Horned Frogs.

In 2010 Purke went 16-0 with a 3.02 ERA and was named the Baseball America Freshman of the Year. In 2011 he battled shoulder issues but still held a 5-1 record with a 1.71 ERA in 11 appearances.

Washington believes Purke is past the shoulder problems and his development will be closely watched throughout the course of this season.

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Nationals beat Houston for the ninth straight time

Nationals beat Houston for the ninth straight time

HOUSTON -- Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer, Howie Kendrick had a two-run triple and the Washington Nationals beat Houston for the ninth straight time, 4-3 Tuesday night in a matchup of division leaders.

Washington's winning streak over the Astros dates to 2012. The Nationals have won 13 of 14 against Houston since 2011.

Kendrick's triple tied it in the third before the Astros went back on top with an RBI single by Josh Reddick in the bottom half. Anthony Rendon doubled with two outs in the fourth before the homer by Wieters, which landed just to the right of straightaway center field, gave the NL East leaders a 4-3 lead.

Tanner Roark (10-8) allowed six hits and two earned runs in 5 2-3 innings and Sean Doolittle pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save.

Charlie Morton (10-6) gave up four runs in six innings for the AL West-leading Astros.

The Astros threatened in the eighth against Brandon Kintzler when Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles and the Nationals intentionally walked Carlos Beltran with one out to load the bases. But Max Stassi grounded into a double play to leave Houston trailing.

George Springer led off the Houston first with a single, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Reddick.

Beltran doubled off the wall in left-center field in the second and scored on a single by Derek Fisher.

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Why Nationals' Max Scherzer picked college over pros — at first

Why Nationals' Max Scherzer picked college over pros — at first

When Max Scherzer was a teenager, he didn't know that one day he'd actually become a two-time Cy Young Award winner. He had no guarantee he'd make it to the majors, much less play in five consecutive MLB All-Star games. 

All he knew was that he had the option to go pro as a kid or go to college, and back then, the Nationals' ace needed a contingency plan in case baseball didn't work out. Fortunately for Scherzer, it did, but he doesn't regret going to college at the University of Missouri, telling Santana Moss on CSN's "Route 89" going to school was a no-brainer.

"It was actually a really easy decision," Scherzer told Moss. "When you get drafted out of high school, you're going to be going into the minor leagues, and that can take three to five or six years — multiple years — in the minor leagues, and you're forfeiting your right to further your education."

Scherzer was drafted in the 43rd round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003, but he opted to play for Mizzou for three years, which turned out to be a great decision. The Arizona Diamondbacks then drafted him in 2006 in the first round as the 11th overall pick. 

"A lot of times when you sign out of high school, you don't make it to the major leagues," Scherzer continued. "So I realize that your education — that's your safety net.

"You need to further your education in college, and if you do get drafted out of college, you're in a much better position to try to chase your dreams because if it doesn't work out, you still have one year left of school and that's much easier to obtain rather than try to go through four years when you're not coming out of high school."

MORE NATIONALS: Stephen Strasburg returns to the mound