- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 3, 2007

Dmitri Young wasn’t talking about his current hitting tear before the Washington Nationals’ game against San Diego last night.

Of course, that meant his teammates also were unwilling to analyze Young’s streak.

“If he’s not going to talk about, I can’t talk about it,” Ronnie Belliard said.

That left the numbers to tell the story. Entering the game, Young ranked fifth in the National League with a .327 batting average and fourth with a .406 on-base percentage.

Young’s streak of hits in eight consecutive at-bats ended with a first-inning groundout last night. The major league record is 12 hits by Mike Higgins (1938) and Walt Dropo (1952) and the National League record is 10 hits by 10 players — including Atlanta’s Matt Diaz — last August. Diaz tied the record against the Nationals.

The challenge facing Acta as long as Young’s bat stays hot is not overworking the 32-year old, who was slowed by Achilles tendon soreness earlier this season.

“I can get a feel for it and we pick the days, like a day game after a night game,” Acta said. “He’s not afraid to let me know if he needs [a rest]. This weekend we’re fine with a day off Monday so he’ll rest then.

“We’ve got a good line of communication. He never wants to be out of the lineup, but he understands why we’re resting him.”

Said Young: “That’s the manager’s decision and as a manager, he has to know his players and know when they may need a little time. I’m not going to argue with him because we have other guys in the team that can step up if I’m not in there. He wants to utilize everybody on the team and that’s what a good manager does.”

Starting Friday in Minnesota, the Nationals play nine consecutive games in American League parks, giving Acta a chance to semi-rest Young by using him as the designated hitter.

“I’m sure I’ll DH a couple games, but that will also give guys like [Austin] Kearns and [Ryan] Zimmerman a chance to DH and [Robert] Fick a chance to play first base,” Young said.

Young was primarily a DH for the Detroit Tigers the last five seasons.

“DH is never easy, but it will be easier in this case because it will only be for a few games,” Young said. “As an American League player, I didn’t get to play defense and when you make an out or you’re doing well, you have to sit on it until you’re next at bat, which can be 45 minutes.”

In his third at-bat last night, Young hit a two-out, two-run homer to right field to cut San Diego’s lead to 6-3. It was Young’s fifth home run of the season.

Cordero in groove

The save total may not be increasing by leaps and bounds, but Nationals closer Chad Cordero’s earned run average continues to plummet.

At the end of April, Cordero had a 4.72 ERA, but entering last night, a run of 10 consecutive scoreless appearances through May and June have lowered his ERA to 2.84.

Each of the 10 outings have lasted an inning and Cordero hasn’t needed more than 24 pitches to retire the side.

“It’s been really good,” said Cordero, who has seven saves. “I’ve gone out there and thrown strikes and it’s been a lot better for me lately.

“The first month I was struggling with my control and when I came back [from bereavement leave], I’ve been back to the old me — just pitching and not worrying about anything else except my job.”

Want more Nats? Check out Nats Home Plate.

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