- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 19, 2006

Seen and Heard

Nationals 10, Mets (ss) 2

VIERA, Fla. — A shaky first inning turned into Ramon Ortiz’s best spring training start. Ortiz gave up two first inning runs and made two errors, but settled down and pitched four good innings, allowing two runs on four hits, striking out three and walking just one batter.

It was an encouraging sign for Ortiz, who has not looked good this spring, allowing 10 runs in his past five innings. With a little more than two weeks left before Opening Day, the Nationals desperately need Ortiz to regain his form.

Ortiz received plenty of run support yesterday. Shortstop Royce Clayton and first baseman Nick Johnson belted solo home runs in the third inning to make it 4-2, giving the Nationals the lead for good. Catcher Wiki Gonzalez (2-for-2, two doubles, 4 RBI) and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (3-for-3, two doubles, RBI) were the hitting stars for the Nationals.

THE BUZZ

Up — ORTIZ’S OUTING

Rough first inning, but turns in best spring start.

Sideways — NO DH

First spring game without the AL’s invention.

Up — MASN GOES LIVE

Something is better than nothing.

Down — AYALA’S ELBOW

Anger, not sadness, grips the clubhouse.

BY THE NUMBERS

2 First inning errors by Nationals starter Ramon Ortiz.

7 RBI by catcher Wiki Gonzalez has delivered in his past two games.

Overheard

“To see one of your best relievers go down because he wasn’t ready to go, [ticked] me off a little bit.”

— Nationals catcher Brian Schneider on reliever Luis Ayala’s season-ending elbow injury during the World Baseball Classic, when Ayala was forced from the game in the ninth inning of Mexico’s 2-1 win over the U.S.

SEVEN-DAY SCHEDULE

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

Tomorrow: 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.

Saturday: vs. Tigers in Lakeland, 1:05 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, 52 degrees.

Viera: Mostly sunny, 77 degrees.

Ken Wright

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To

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