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3/13/2013 3:50 P.M. ET

In Harvey tuneup, Mets get blast from Cowgill

Right-hander goes four innings, strikes out six against split Nationals squad

VIERA, Fla. -- After experiencing a dead arm last week, right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was solid on the mound Wednesday, while the Nationals defeated the Mets, 8-5, at Space Coast Stadium.

Zimmermann lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs (one earned), striking out six batters and walking two.

The Mets scored their first two runs in the top of the first inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Travis d'Arnaud hit a ground ball to first baseman Adam LaRoche, but the ball went under his glove and it allowed Ike Davis and Marlon Byrd to score.

But the Nationals would take lead against Mets right-hander Matt Harvey in the bottom of the inning, when Bryce Harper hit a three-run homer. He drove in four runs in the game. Harvey settled down to pitch four innings and allowed the three runs on two hits.

The Mets would tie the game at 3 in the fifth. With Craig Stammen on the mound, New York had runners first and second and two outs, when Byrd singled to left field to plate Wilmer Flores.

The Mets took a 4-3 lead against reliever Drew Storen in the top of the seventh inning on a solo homer by Collin Cowgill.

But the Nationals took charge after that as they scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning off Bobby Parnell. Tyler Moore had a two-run double.

Up next: The competition for bullpen spots will continue when LaTroy Hawkins, Pedro Feliciano, Greg Burke and Josh Edgin all appear in relief Thursday against the Tigers. There is a decent chance all four pitchers could open the season in New York's bullpen. All of them will follow starter Dillon Gee in a 1:10 p.m. ET game at Tradition Field, with the game available live on MLB.TV.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.