- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Nationals 3, Marlins 0

JUPITER, Fla. — Washington won back-to-back Grapefruit League games for the first time this spring behind the solid pitching of rookie starter Matt Chico.

Chico threw four shutout innings, and relievers Saul Rivera, Jesus Colome, Chad Cordero and Micah Bowie preserved the Nationals’ first shutout of this spring over the next five innings.

With the bases loaded in the top of the fourth inning, Joe Thurston’s single to right field scored Michael Restovich to give the Nationals an early 1-0 lead off Florida starter Ricky Nolasco.

The Nationals added two insurance runs in the ninth inning when Ronnie Belliard singled with two outs. Bernie Castro then reached on an error by Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera.

Catcher Robert Fick then delivered a run-scoring single to right, scoring Belliard. Fick got hung up between first and second base on his turn and got thrown out diving back to first, but an alert Castro scored on the play, and the Nationals led 3-0.

TEMPERATURE CHECK

Matt Chico’s start (up)

Rookie throws four shutout innings.

Pedro Astacio’s minor league deal (down)

C’mon guys, Astacio’s done.

More cuts today (up)

Perhaps as many as four players will be reassigned.

Nationals’ travel roster (down)

One observer called it the Viera, Fla., Little League

BY THE NUMBERS

1.25 ERA by the Nationals (five runs, 36 innings) in their last four games.

2.11 ERA by the Nationals (15 runs, 64 innings) in last seven games.

OVERHEARD

“I think he’s in better shape than I’ve ever seen him before. I think when you come in here you should prepare yourself to play 162 games just like Cal [Ripken] used to do or like [Miguel] Tejada does. I know it’s not the easiest thing to squat down, but he chose that position.”

— Nationals manager Manny Acta on catcher Brian Schneider playing more than a career-high 135 games this season

SEVEN-DAY SCHEDULE

Today: vs. Braves in Viera, 7:05 p.m.

Tomorrow: vs. Astros in Kissimmee, 7:05 p.m.

Friday: vs. Tigers in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

Saturday: vs. Cardinals in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

Sunday: vs. Braves in Lake Buena Vista, 1:05 p.m.

Monday: vs. Tigers in Lakeland, 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday: vs. Mets in Viera, 7:05 p.m.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Washington: mostly cloudy, 48 degrees.

Viera: Afternoon showers, wind, 75 degrees.

Ken Wright

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