- The Washington Times - Monday, April 21, 2008

MIAMI — Odalis Perez isn’t pitching like he’s 0-3, so he’s not concentrating on the fact that he remains 0-3. It’s that simple.

Perez turned in six solid innings in yesterday’s 6-1 loss to the Marlins, but his chance for a win was hampered by a lack of run support again. But because that’s nothing the Washington Nationals pitcher can control, he isn’t worrying about it.

“Everyone is trying hard, and it won’t be forever,” Perez said. “For now, the effort I’m putting in has been good. The results might not be what they say on the paper, but I’m happy.”

He threw 101 pitches, 61 of them for strikes. When Perez is on, he’s able to effectively change speeds and get hitters swinging at off-speed pitches. He did that yesterday, striking out seven hitters on a team full of free swingers.

“There were three or four pitches I didn’t locate well,” Perez said. “Change-up was good, cutter was good, fastball, you know, getting ahead in the count. Everything was working together.”

Washington is now 1-4 when Perez pitches and has only scored 11 runs in his starts. Ever the optimist, however, the 30-year-old left-hander didn’t change anything yesterday.

“We’re going to get it all together and on the same page,” he said. “There’s no doubt about this team. With the talent we have, we’re going to be good.”

Hill feeling fine

Shawn Hill said his arm felt fine one day after his first start of the season, and the right-hander, who missed all of spring training and the season’s first three weeks with forearm soreness, is set to start Thursday against the New York Mets.

“It’s normal stiffness [the day after a start],” Hill said. “It’s kind of on par for where I’m at right now.”

Hill gave up four runs in five innings on Saturday night against the Marlins while striking out six. He will throw on the side today, though he still isn’t ready to pitch off a mound between starts. But the tightness he has been pitching through, he said, is gradually lessening.

“The recovery’s been a little bit quicker,” he said. “The sharpness of the pain, the intensity of the pain hasn’t been quite as bad. The more I’m throwing, each time, it’s kind of in the right direction.”

Extra bases

Nick Johnson got a day off, pinch hitting for Perez in the seventh inning but otherwise watching while Aaron Boone played first. Manager Manny Acta said he wanted to rest Johnson in a day game after a night game and not put too much stress on the first baseman, who missed all of 2007 with a broken leg. …

Acta said players like Ryan Zimmerman and Austin Kearns, who are slumping to start the season, won’t get a day off to break out of it. “It’s too early,” he said. “If they’re struggling and it’s halfway through the year, maybe you can fix that with a day off, followed with another day off. Right now, it’s too early to be trying to cure a slump with a day off.”

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