The Washington Times - April 8, 2009, 01:44PM

The Nationals are benefitting from a little Florida floundering, but they have looked much better through three innings than either of the first two days.

They put together two runs in the first inining with a pair of hits and — just as importantly — two walks. The first one, from Elijah Dukes, led to a run, and the second one, from Josh Willingham, kept the inning alive for Austin Kearns’ two-out single that sliced left when Cody Ross was planning for it to go right. Nothing fancy, but it’s the heart of what Manny Acta wants from his offense. They got two extra outs, and turned them into two runs.

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Washington also got some help from Chris Volstad, who struggled with his control through three innings, and Cody Ross, who made an absolutely boneheaded decision in the first. He tried to catch Dukes off first on Ryan Zimmerman’s flyout — only there was no one within 50 feet of the bag. Cristian Guzman and Dukes each moved up a base.

Daniel Cabrera has been his standard self, which is to say, a little rocky at times. He’s thrown 52 pitches through three innings, has walked two and thrown a wild pitch, None of those events, though, led to runs. Florida’s one run came from (who else) Emilio Bonifacio, who dropped a single to left, stole second, and took third on Wil Nieves’ throwing error before scoring on a single. There’s no reason to anoint Bonifacio an All-Star yet; remember, he was almost this good the first week he was in Washington last year, too. But he does seem more comfortable going the other way with the ball, and we’re seeing a glimpse of how good he can be.