- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

Martis, Lannan continue to look strong

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - It has become almost a given for the Washington Nationals this spring: Every fifth day, John Lannan and Shairon Martis will do something that further raises their standing in the eyes of the team’s talent evaluators.

Run them out one after the other, split them up, it doesn’t seem to matter.

Martis gave up one run - his first of the spring - in four innings against the Mets on Saturday, while Lannan, who pitched in an intrasquad game so the Nationals could see Martis as a starter, threw 43 of his 59 pitches for strikes in five innings.

In the game against the Mets, Martis walked Luis Castillo in the first inning and got in trouble once he became a little picky with his location in the fourth inning. But he was smooth in between, striking out a pair.

“I would like to see him get ahead of hitters a little more. I think it was six of 17 first-pitch strikes [Saturday]. In the long run, that’s going to get you,” pitching coach Randy St. Claire said. “But he threw the ball well.”

Martis, in particular, could muddy the arrangement of the Nationals’ starting rotation. If Shawn Hill is healthy (he’s scheduled to start the game and throw an inning against the Marlins on Monday), he’s all but assured a starting spot. That would leave one opening between Martis, Jordan Zimmermann and Collin Balester.

“He’s making it tough,” manager Manny Acta said.

NATIONALS 6, METS 2

The Nationals’ offense was virtually dormant until the ninth inning, when it erupted for six runs on seven hits against Mets relievers Brandon Knight and Matt DeSalvo. Before that, the Nationals had just two hits in the game.

With Washington up 4-2 in the ninth, Justin Maxwell delivered the final shot with a two-run homer off DeSalvo over the left-field wall. Garrett Mock pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the comeback win.

- Ben Goessling

TEMPERATURE CHECK

SHAIRON MARTIS [UP]

Could be starter - in the major leagues

JUSTIN MAXWELL [UP]

Open stance worked well on pinch-hit homer

METS’ LINEUP [UP]

Nice to see Jose Reyes and a few other major leaguers

QUOTABLE

“We spent the whole game being shot down. And then we came alive in the ninth. Even if it is in spring training, you get excited about things like that.”

- Manager Manny Acta on the Nationals’ six-run ninth inning

SUNDAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Showers, 47 degrees

Viera: Partly cloudy, 85 degrees

THREE-DAY SCHEDULE

Sunday: vs. Tigers in Viera, 1 p.m.

Monday: vs. Marlins in Jupiter, 1 p.m.

Tuesday: Off

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