- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 2, 2005

Nationals 3, Devil Rays 2

VIERA, Fla. — In their final game of the spring at Space Coast Stadium, the Nationals’ offense came around just enough to leave town with a victory.

Shut out for five innings by Tampa Bay left-hander Mark Hendrickson, Washington rallied for two runs in the sixth (a solo homer by Nick Johnson and an RBI groundout by Vinny Castilla), then took the lead for good in the eighth when Ryan Church’s second double of the game scored Jamey Carroll from first base.

Nationals starter Zach Day wasn’t totally satisfied with his six-inning, two-run performance, but the right-hander did strike out six before turning things over to the bullpen.

Washington’s relief corps was brilliant, with three right-handers combining to toss three scoreless innings: T.J. Tucker in the seventh, Antonio Osuna in the eighth and Chad Cordero (who will be the club’s closer) in the ninth.

After the game, the Nationals packed their bags and departed for St. Petersburg, Fla., where they will face the Devil Rays this afternoon before heading north for tomorrow’s exhibition finale at RFK Stadium.

THE BUZZ

Up — Breaking camp

47 days later, Nationals pack up and head out.

Down — Carlos Baerga

Classy veteran finds himself looking for a job on the eve of Opening Day.

Down — Nationals offense

At what point should they start worrying?

BY THE NUMBERS

5,984

Average attendance at Space Coast Stadium this spring.

4,425

Average attendance at Space Coast Stadium last spring.

OVERHEARD

“We need a little kick in the butt, and I think the regular season will do it for us.”

— Outfielder Brad Wilkerson on the Nationals’ sluggish play the last week or so.

NATIONALS’ SCHEDULE

TODAY: at Devil Rays, 3:05 p.m.

TOMORROW: vs. Mets at RFK Stadium, 12:05 p.m.

MONDAY: Opening Day at Phillies, 3:05 p.m.

Mark Zuckerman

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