- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2007

PHILADELPHIA — The Chief went back to basics.

Washington Nationals closer Chad Cordero scrapped his slider yesterday and relied on his fastball. As a result, Cordero picked up his second save of the season after blowing consecutive opportunities last week.

“I’ve been struggling with my slider. I mean I still threw a couple today, I threw one to [Pat] Burrell and he fouled it off,” Cordero said. “So then, I started throwing my fastball outside. That’s what got me to where I am today and I’ve just got to get more control of it.”

Cordero relieved starter Shawn Hill in the ninth inning with Shane Victorino on first and no outs.

Almost every one of Cordero’s save opportunities this season has been a rollercoaster ride. Yesterday’s 4-2 win was no exception.

Chase Utley took Cordero to within a foot of the center field fence. Phillies slugger Ryan Howard then doubled down the right field line. A sacrifice fly by Burrell scored Victorino to make it 4-2 with two outs and Howard on third. Cordero then struck out Wes Helms with a 90 mph fastball to end the game.

“Today is the day to go back to the way I was last year and the year before,” Cordero said. “I made it a little scary again with that one to Chase, where it was a popup at first, but then it kept going. After Burrell hit the sac fly, we still had a two-run lead. Even if they hit another home run, we’d still be tied and we’d still have a good chance. I wasn’t really worried about it.”

King could return tomorrow

Barring any last minute setbacks, left-handed reliever Ray King most likely will be activated off the 15-day disabled list tomorrow.

Before activating King — who went on the DL April 12 with tendinitis in his left shoulder — the Nationals want to see how he feels one day after pitching in a game. King, who is eligible to come off the DL today, pitched last night for Class AA Harrisburg in a game against Reading.

He went 11/3 innings with a walk and a strikeout.

If the Nationals activate King tomorrow, the club will be forced to make a roster move. Among the Nationals’ relievers, right-handers Saul Rivera and Ryan Wagner still have minor league options left.

“It’s going to be a tough decision, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do,” Acta said.

Moose loose in Harrisburg

Mike Mussina, the former Baltimore Oriole and current New York Yankee, is scheduled to pitch today for the Class AA Trenton Thunder against the Senators in Harrisburg. Mussina is on the Yankees’ 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

C’mon, Blue

It’s a good thing there isn’t instant replay in baseball or the umpiring crew for this Phillies series would have some explaining to do.

The umpiring crew of Jerry Crawford, Brian O’Nora, Phil Cuzzi and Adrian Johnson blew calls all series with indisputable video evidence backing their blunders. The latest bad call came in the second inning of yesterday’s game.

Nationals center fielder Ryan Church fouled a Cole Hamels pitch off the instep of his right foot. The ball went off Church’s foot and bounced to first base, where Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard picked up the ball and stepped on the bag. Home-plate umpire Adrian Johnson ruled it a fair ball and called Church out. Televised replays clearly showed the ball being fouled off Church’s right foot.

“He had a mark on his shoe and everything,” Acta said.

Want more Nats? Check out Nats Home Plate.

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