- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2005

BRAVES 4, NATIONALS 0

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.

Atlanta Braves starter John Smoltz pitched four shutout innings, and the Braves scored three runs in the seventh inning off Washington Nationals reliever Luis Ayala in a win at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

Nationals outfielder Brad Wilkerson went 2-for-3 with a double. Right-hander Zach Day rebounded nicely from his last start and allowed just one run in five innings. Day gave up four hits, walked none and struck out two.

Day, who is penciled in as the Nationals’ No. 5 starter this season, had a rough outing in his previous start Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals. He surrendered six runs ” just three earned ” in four innings.

The Braves took a 1-0 lead off Day in the third after first baseman Adam LaRoche doubled to center field to lead off the inning. Smoltz bunted LaRoche to third, and LaRoche scored when first baseman Nick Johnson made a terrific play on Braves leadoff batter Rafael Furcal. Johnson threw out Furcal while laying on the ground in foul territory.

The Buzz

Up ” Hey, Jose

Vidro returns to the Nationals’ lineup today against the Mets.

Down ” Weather problems

11/2-hour rain delay reinforces idea all spring games should be played in daylight.

Down ” Braves outfield

Atlanta’s Brian Jordan and Raul Mondesi want no part of delayed start.

Up ” Pregame pyrotechnics

Fireworks display during national anthem softens poor decision to play game.

By the numbers

40

Players on the Nationals’ roster, tied with Texas for the fewest in major league baseball.

Overheard

“The Braves are the team everyone has to go through in this division. I don’t care what the rest of us do. Until we are able to overcome them, their reign won’t come to an end. We may find out how to do it, but until then, the winner of this division has to go through the Braves.”

— Nationals manager Frank Robinson

Nationals’ Schedule

TODAY: vs. Mets in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

TOMORROW: vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie, 7:10 p.m.

SATURDAY: vs. Indians in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

SUNDAY: vs. Dodgers in Vero Beach, 1:05 p.m.

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

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

WEDNESDAY: Off-day

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 Boulevard (Exit 195). Proceed south on Fiske Boulevard/Stadium Parkway to the stadium. Approx. time: 45 minutes.

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

Today’s weather

Washington: Partly cloudy, 50 degrees.

Viera: Thunderstorms, 74 degrees.

Mark Zuckerman and Ken Wright

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