- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Astros 5, Nationals 2

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Washington Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill is looking more and more like a lock for one of the four vacant spots in the club’s starting rotation.

Yesterday against a loaded Houston Astros lineup, Hill turned in his second impressive outing this spring. He allowed only one run on three hits in three innings of work. Hill needed just 43 pitches to tame a formidable batting order featuring Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Morgan Ensberg.

The only run Hill allowed came in the first inning. Biggio doubled down the left field line and two batters later, Berkman knocked in Biggio with a single to right-center field.

When Hill left the game, the Nationals were leading 2-1. In the sixth, though, reliever Saul Rivera gave up four runs and four hits, including a three-run home run by Ensberg and a solo shot by Biggio.

TEMPERATURE CHECK

Hot: On the hill

Right-hander Hill strong again

Cold: Play ball

Ump ready, grounds crew isn’t, to open fourth

Hot: Schneider’s bat

Another 2-for-3 day, now hitting .571

Cold: Rivera’s one inning

Established guys must be better

BY THE NUMBERS

41

Pitches it took Nationals starter Shawn Hill to get through three innings yesterday.

60

Pitches it took Astros two-time All-Star Roy Oswalt to get through three innings yesterday.

OVERHEARD

“Yeah, [location] was there, but he had a nice [strike] zone working back there behind the plate. He doesn’t need much help, but he was getting a little bit.”

- Outfielder Austin Kearns on Astros starter Roy Oswalt. Kearns doubled in two at-bats against the Astros ace.

SEVEN-DAY SCHEDULE

Tomorrow: vs. Astros in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

Friday: vs. Orioles in Fort Lauderdale, 1:05 p.m.

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

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

Monday: vs. Mets in Viera, 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday: Off day

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

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