- The Washington Times - Friday, March 3, 2006

PIRATES 6, NATIONALS 4

BRADENTON, Fla. — Washington’s young hitters sure are making a good impression so far. Rookies Ryan Zimmerman and Brandon Watson and second-year outfielder Ryan Church all had key hits yesterday, giving the Nationals an early lead before the Pirates rallied late to win at McKechnie Field.

Zimmerman went 2-for-2 and with a first-pitch, RBI single off Pittsburgh ace lefty Zach Duke to open the Nationals’ scoring in the second. One inning later, Church hit a two-run homer to right off reliever Paul Maholm to make it 3-0. Watson, meanwhile, went 2-for-3 and beat out a perfectly executed drag bunt, making him 4-for-5 with a walk in his first two spring training games.

Nationals non-roster right-hander Kyle Denney had a nice performance. He started and allowed just one hit in three innings, putting him in position for the win. But left-hander Micah Bowie was tagged for a pair of home runs — Craig Wilson’s three-run shot in the sixth and Carlos Maldonado’s two-run blast in the seventh — and took the loss.

THE BUZZ

INJURY BUG

Lawrence, Fick, now Guillen … and it’s still the first week of March!

YOUNG GUNS

Zimmerman, Church, Watson lead offensive attack against Pirates.

BRADENTON

Quaint McKechnie Field has old-time, minor league feel.

GETTING TO BRADENTON

Traffic, construction means you’re on the road by 6:30 a.m.

BY THE NUMBERS

0 Days Jose Guillen spent on the disabled list the last two seasons.

.800, .833

Batting average and on-base percentage for Brandon Watson through two Grapefruit League games.

OVERHEARD

“It just seems like we keep taking punches after punches. We keep getting hit and hit, but we’re still standing.”

— Manager Frank Robinson, on the Nationals’ sudden spate of injuries.

SEVEN-DAY SCHEDULE

TODAY: (ss) vs. Panama in Viera, 1:05 p.m.; (ss) vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie, 1:10 p.m.

TOMORROW: vs. Orioles in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

MONDAY: (ss) vs. Astros in Kissimmee, 1:05 p.m.; (ss) vs. Dodgers in Vero Beach, 1:05 p.m.

TUESDAY: vs. Marlins in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

WEDNESDAY: vs. Cardinals in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

THURSDAY: (ss) vs. Marlins in Viera, 1:05 p.m.; (ss) vs. Indians in Winter Haven, 1:05 p.m.

FRIDAY: vs. Astros in Kissimmee, 1:05 p.m.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Sunny, 45 degrees.

Viera: Partly cloudy, 71 degrees.

Mark Zuckerman

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To submit a question, go to the Sports Page

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