- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2006

Orioles 12, Nationals 4

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — So much for the return to crisp, well-played baseball.

Reverting to the form they have displayed most of this spring, the Nationals muddled their way through an unsightly loss to the rival Baltimore Orioles yesterday. Washington committed three errors (Royce Clayton, Ryan Church and Mike DiFelice), and shortstop Ian Desmond was doubled off first base on a routine fly to center.

Right-hander Pedro Astacio wasn’t helped by the poor defense, but he wasn’t sharp either. Astacio, who is penciled in as the Nationals’ No.3 starter, gave up six runs (four earned) on seven hits in four innings.

“It’s not good. I need some work,” said the veteran right-hander, who has a 9.00 ERA through three appearances.

Astacio will start two more games before the regular season begins.

THE BUZZ

TOMMY JOHN FOR AYALA

Reliever might be questioning that decision to pitch in WBC now.

USA ELIMINATED

On the bright side, the Nationals get Schneider, Cordero and Majewski back.

SLOPPINESS RETURNS

Three errors, poor baserunning. Frank’s message isn’t getting across.

PEDRO ASTACIO

Three appearances now, not much to show for it.

BY THE NUMBERS

214Games reliever Luis Ayala pitched in over the last three seasons.

0Games Ayala will pitch in this year after undergoing elbow ligament replacement surgery.

OVERHEARD

“This is what we all feared, something like this.”

— Frank Robinson on reliever Luis Ayala’s suffering a season-ending elbow injury during the World Baseball Classic

SEVEN-DAY SCHEDULE

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

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

Monday: vs. Dodgers in Viera, 6:05 p.m.

Tuesday: Off day.

Wednesday: vs. Cardinals in Jupiter, 1:05 p.m.

Thursday: vs. Orioles in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

Friday: vs. Braves in Lake Buena Vista, 7:05 p.m.

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.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Sunny, 48 degrees.

Viera: Sunny, 77 degrees.

Mark Zuckerman

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

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