- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Astros 5, Nationals 2

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Washington 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 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

ON THE HILL (UP)

Right-hander Hill strong again.

PLAY BALL (DOWN)

Ump ready but grounds crew isn’t to open fourth.

SCHNEIDER’S BAT (UP)

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

RIVERA’S ONE INNING (DOWN)

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.”

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

SEVEN-DAY SCHEDULE

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

Tomorrow: 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.

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 Boulevard (Exit 195). Proceed south on Fiske Boulevard/Stadium Parkway to the stadium. Approximate time: 45 minutes.

From Melbourne/south: Take I-95 North to Wickham Road (Exit 191) and turn left. Turn right on Lake Andrew Drive and follow to the stadium. Approximate time: 20 minutes.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Sunny, 41 degrees.

Viera: Partly cloudy, 78 degrees.

Ken Wright

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