Nationals 1, Orioles 0
VIERA, Fla. (AP)—Alfonso Soriano’s second day in the outfield was much tougher than his first.
The Washington Nationals’ reluctant new left fielder made three routine grabs Thursday during a 1-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, but two catchable balls fell in front of him. An experienced outfielder probably would have charged both and turned them into outs.
In the seventh inning, Soriano loped after a looper by Baltimore’s Nick Markakis, who alertly raced to second for a double when Soriano hesitated.
After finally agreeing to move from second base to left field, Soriano had an easy day in his first spring start Wednesday, turning the only fly ball he saw into a double play against St. Louis.
On Thursday, he went 1-for-4 at the plate with a single in the eighth.
Washington got a strong outing from Ramon Ortiz. The right-hander was so efficient that pitching coach Randy St. Claire made him throw 20 more pitches in the bullpen after the game to reach his pitch count.
Ortiz threw only 62 pitches in six innings. He allowed five hits and struck out two with no walks to earn the win.
“Everything’s coming together,” Ortiz said. “Today I felt very comfortable with all my pitches. I’ll have to keep it going.”
Royce Clayton drove in the only run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
“It was a very well-played game,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. “It all started with pitching and it all started with defense.”
Good defense is something the Nationals have lacked this spring, with 39 errors in 23 games entering Thursday.
The team didn’t make an error against Baltimore, much to the delight of Robinson. Before the game, he discussed how frustrated he has been with the team’s “sloppy” play.
“This is what we have to do to compete,” Robinson said after the game. “Hopefully, now we can put it together.”
Bruce Chen took the hard-luck loss for Baltimore, giving up three hits in five innings. He struck out five and walked one.
Markakis was 4-for-4 with two doubles for the Orioles.
Washington optioned LHP Billy Traber to Triple-A New Orleans and reassigned right-hander Kyle Denney, catcher Mike DiFelice, outfielder Kenny Kelly, outfielder George Lombard, right-hander Saul Rivera and right-hander Steve Watkins to minor league camp. The Nationals also released left-hander Valerio de los Santos.