Orioles 4, Nationals 3

The Baltimore Sun

Starting nine

The Orioles sent nine batters to the plate in the third inning and scored three runs, the last two coming on a single by Aubrey Huff, in a 4-3 victory over the Washington Nationals at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. The Orioles loaded the bases with none out against Washington starter Matt Chico on an infield hit by Jason Dubois and singles by Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora. Nick Markakis walked to force in a run, Miguel Tejada struck out and Huff delivered.

Peer pressure

The starting rotation has a 1.89 ERA in nine games. Orioles starters have allowed four earned runs and 13 hits in 19 innings. Steve Trachsel is responsible for all the runs and seven hits. The starters also have walked four and struck out 22. "Nobody wants to be the weak link," said Jaret Wright, yesterday's starter. "These guys are going out and pitching great so far. If we can keep that through the year, guys pushing each other to get better and always working, I think it could be good."

Familiar faces

The Nationals' lineup included two former Orioles: center fielder Darnell McDonald, a first-round draft pick in 1997, and catcher Danny Ardoin. Infielder Bernie Castro wasn't included on the travel roster, reducing the size of the reunion party.

On deck

The St. Louis Cardinals make their second visit to Fort Lauderdale in five days. Adam Loewen makes his second start, and Jamie Walker and Chris Ray also are scheduled to pitch. Adam Wainwright gets the start for St. Louis.

Roch Kubatko

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