- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 11, 2006

Washington Nationals manager Frank Robinson wanted to see rookie reliever Bill Bray in a pressure situation.

Robinson liked what he saw in Friday night’s 12-inning win over the Philadelphia Phillies: three perfect innings — the eighth, ninth and 10th — in a tie game from the 23-year-old left-hander.

“He couldn’t do any more, let me put it that way,” Robinson said. “I just wanted to see what he’s capable of doing and have an idea. He answered a lot of questions last night. He also answered that he can go three effective innings. Now, am I at ease with him to put him in any type of situation? Just about, yes.”

Bray, who was selected in the first round (13th overall) of the 2004 draft out of William & Mary, had not pitched more than one inning in his three previous appearances since he was called up from Class AAA New Orleans on June 2.

In the ninth, Bray retired the heart of the Phillies order — Chase Utley, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell. He struck out Abreu and Burrell, who were both in the top 10 in the National League in RBI. Abreu was first in on-base percentage.

“It definitely helped prove to myself that I can go into a situation and get the job done,” said Bray, who has allowed just one hit in 51/3 innings. “It’s definitely a confidence booster.”

Bray had a shot to win the game in the 10th, when the Nationals loaded the bases with one out. But Jose Vidro grounded into a fielder’s choice and Nick Johnson grounded out to second to end the inning.

Closer Chad Cordero (2-1), who pitched scoreless innings in the 11th and 12th, picked up the win when Robert Fick singled home Marlon Byrd in the 12th for the Nationals’ eighth win in nine games.

Guillen is back

The Nationals activated outfielder Jose Guillen off the 15-day disabled list and optioned outfielder Mike Vento back to New Orleans yesterday — the first day Guillen was eligible to come off the DL.

Guillen, who had been on the DL since May 27 with a strained right hamstring, hit .333 with two home runs and three RBI in a three-game rehab stint with the Class A Potomac Nationals.

He entered yesterday’s game as an eighth inning defensive replacement for Marlon Anderson. Guillen, who is hitting .212, popped up to second base in the eighth inning in his only at-bat.

“I’m not expecting to play right away,” he said before yesterday’s game. “For me to go on the DL. … I was very hurt. I’m pretty much what I need to be right now.”

Schneider’s extra duty

If anybody deserved a day off yesterday, it was catcher Brian Schneider, who played all 12 innings Friday night.

But he didn’t get it.

That’s because Livan Hernandez started yesterday, and Schneider always catches Hernandez.

“I’m out there every day with Livo,” Schneider said. “Just because [Friday] was a late game and not a lot of sleep, it’s not an excuse not to go out there and catch him.”

Robinson said Schneider will have today’s game off and Fick will handle the coaching duties.

Extra base

Former Washington Senators great Mickey Vernon threw out the first pitch yesterday. Vernon, a two-time American League batting champion (1946 and 1953), is celebrating the 60th anniversary of his first batting title.

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