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The Baltimore Sun

In a zone

The good Daniel Cabrera appeared at yesterday's game - the one who throws strikes and overpowers hitters. Cabrera took a two-hit shutout into the sixth inning before giving up Garrett Guzman's two-run homer and leaving with one out. He faced the minimum number of batters going into the sixth, and his pitch count stood at 42. Cabrera struck out four straight hitters, beginning with Lastings Milledge to end the first inning.

Big third

Nationals starter John Patterson retired the first six batters he faced and looked as if he would engage Cabrera in a pitchers' duel - at least by Grapefruit League standards - until the third inning, when the Orioles scored four times to take a 4-0 lead. Ramon Hernandez led off with a double and scored with one out on Brandon Fahey's single. Consecutive two-out hits by Melvin Mora, Nick Markakis and Kevin Millar padded the lead. The Orioles scored two more in the fourth on Brian Roberts' two-out, two-run double that followed Hernandez's single and Adam Jones' double.

What slump?

Hernandez entered the game batting .200, with five hits in 25 at-bats. His starting job wasn't in jeopardy, but he was due for a big day. He had it against the Nationals. Hernandez doubled to open the third and scored on Fahey's single. He singled with one out in the fourth and scored on Roberts' two-run double. And he singled in the fifth after Luke Scott's two-run homer increased the Orioles' lead to 8-0. With those three at-bats, Hernandez increased his average to .286.

On deck

The Orioles return to action tomorrow against the Minnesota Twins at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. Matt Albers will make the start instead of Garrett Olson. Left-hander Brian Burres, competing with both pitchers for the fifth spot in the rotation or a long-relief role, will follow Albers. Philip Humber, acquired from the New York Mets in the Johan Santana trade, starts for the Twins. Meanwhile, Jeremy Guthrie will pitch in an intrasquad game tomorrow.

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