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Nats Report

- The Washington Times - Friday, March 3, 2006

PIRATES 9, NATIONALS 1

VIERA, Fla. -- Ramon Ortiz threw more pitches than he anticipated in the Nationals' Grapefruit League opener. The right-hander worked three innings and threw 50 pitches but only allowed one run. He battled through a 27-pitch second inning, one in which he loaded the bases on three walks. Other than those walks, Ortiz was satisfied with his performance.

The Pirates scored their only run off him in the second when center fielder Andrew McCutchen delivered a bases-loaded, two-out single to left, with Marlon Byrd gunning down Mike Edwards at the plate to prevent another run.

Meanwhile, the Nationals could not produce a big hit when they needed one, stranding 12 men. Leadoff man Brandon Watson went 2-for-2 and reached base three times. Catcher Mike DiFelice (2-for-3) drove in Byrd with a second-inning single to shallow center for the Nationals' only run of the game. Non-roster invitee Steve Watkins took the loss after allowing two runs on four hits in two innings of relief.

THE BUZZ

RAMON ORTIZ

Walks three in the second, but holds Pirates to one run.

AVAILABLE ARMS

Two games in and they're already calling up minor leaguers for help.

BRANDON WATSON

Leadoff candidate goes 2-for-2 with a walk.

MLB UNIFORM MAKERS

Turned Class AAA coach Rick Eckstein's last name into "Eckstine." Guess they never heard of his brother.

BY THE NUMBERS

12Men left on base by the Nationals yesterday.

11Hits the Nationals collected despite scoring only one run.

OVERHEARD

"He's not going to be a reserve here, not at his age. He'll be more beneficial to this ballclub and to him — if he didn't make this ballclub as a starter — to go down to Triple-A and play every day and be ready whenever we might need him. And we'll certainly need him before the season is over. We're hoping he will win a job on this ballclub."

—Manager Frank Robinson, on 24-year-old center fielder and leadoff hitter Brandon Watson.

SEVEN-DAY SCHEDULE

TODAY: vs. Pirates in Bradenton, 1:05 p.m.

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

SUNDAY: 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.

TODAY'S WEATHER

Washington: Sunny, 44 degrees.

Viera: Partly cloudy, 77 degrees.

Ken Wright and Mark Zuckerman

HOW TO GET TO SPACE COAST STADIUM

From Orlando/North: Take Route 528 East (Bee Line Expressway) 25 miles to I-95 South. Exit I-95 South at Fiske Blvd. (Exit 195). Proceed south on Fiske Blvd./Stadium Parkway to the stadium. Approx. time: 45 minutes.

From Melbourne/South: Take I-95 North to Wickham Rd. (Exit 191) and turn left. Turn right on Lake Andrew Dr. and follow to the stadium. Approx. time: 20 minutes.

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To submit a question, go to the http://www.washingtontimes.com/sports>Sports Page