- The Washington Times - Monday, March 13, 2006

MARLINS 5, NATIONALS 2

JUPITER, Fla. — It’s a good thing Washington and Florida don’t meet too many times this season. Oh wait, they do. Eighteen times.

In that case, the Nationals better hope they have figured out the Marlins by the time these games start really counting because they sure haven’t this spring. Washington fell to 0-3 against its NL East rival after dropping yesterday’s contest at Roger Dean Stadium, a loss that again featured shaky pitching and even shakier defense.

Ramon Ortiz, bidding for the No. 3 spot in the starting rotation, surrendered three runs on six hits in three innings. On the bright side, the right-hander looked better than he did five days ago against these same Marlins, when he was knocked around for seven runs and nine hits in just two innings.

Neither Ortiz nor the Nationals relievers who followed were helped out by the defense, which committed three errors (two by catcher Wiki Gonzalez, one by first baseman Matt LeCroy). For those keeping score at home, that’s 16 errors in Washington’s last seven games (spanning six days).

The Buzz

2-10-1

At what point do we get worried about the Nationals’ record?

Ramon Ortiz

12.38 ERA in three spring starts. Is that good?

Marlins

They may lose 100 this year, but they’re Nationals killers this spring.

Glovework

Three more errors yesterday. This is getting contagious.

DID YOU KNOW?

Even though National League teams are allowed to use designated hitters this spring during the World Baseball Classic, the Mets have chosen to let the pitchers hit for tonight’s game against the Nationals. So get ready to see Pedro Astacio taking his hacks.

OVERHEARD

“It’s never too early to be concerned. But I’m not ready to go jump off a building or anything.”

— Manager Frank Robinson on the Nationals’ lack of offense.

SEVEN-DAY SCHEDULE

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

Tomorrow: (ss) vs. Marlins (ss) in Viera, 1:05 p.m.; (ss) vs. Marlins (ss) in Jupiter, 1:05 p.m.

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

Thursday: vs. Tigers (ss) in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

Friday: vs. Orioles in Fort Lauderdale, 1:05 p.m.

Saturday: vs. Mets (ss) in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

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

HOW TO GET TO SPACE COAST STADIUM

From Orlando/North: Take Rte. 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.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Washington: isolated thunderstorms, 81 degrees.

Viera: partly cloudy, 81 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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