SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Before the game, Davey Johnson joked that the Washington Nationals’ recent slump could be blamed on his rustiness. He hadn’t managed in spring training since 2001.
After the Nationals lost 12-3 to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, Johnson wasn’t joking.
The Orioles had 17 hits — 11 of them off Edwin Jackson — and the Nationals made four errors while falling to 0-10-1 in their last 11 games.
“More of the same,” Johnson said.
In the last four games, the Nationals have totaled six runs. In the last three, they’ve given up 26.
“This has been kind of a grueling three days and a rough time of the spring,” Johnson said. “I look at things that are happening for the best, having a few guys down and having a bunch of road trips where you try to take it easy on your veteran players, not having to travel and just sitting for a long time.”
Johnson said he’ll start playing his regulars more often on Sunday, and he hopes they’ll do better.
“I think we’ll start to see what we’re made of this coming week,” Johnson said.
Jackson is 1-3 with a 6.88 ERA in five spring starts.
He allowed 10 runs — seven earned — and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings. In his last three starts, he has given up 13 earned runs and 23 hits in 11 innings.
The Orioles scored a run in the first, four in the third and five more in the fourth.
“Initially, I started off knowing exactly what I wanted to do: Make them put the ball in play. The last inning, some balls I left up that they hit pretty good,” Jackson said.
Matt Wieters had a three-run homer among his four hits and drove in six runs. Adam Jones and Robert Andino each added three hits, and Jake Arrieta worked five solid innings for the Orioles.
It was the third straight win for Baltimore.
Wieters had just four hits in 12 games and was batting .129 coming in. He went deep in the third against Jackson and increased his batting average exactly 100 points.
“This is just around the point of the spring where the bats catch up with some of the pitching,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.
Showalter estimates that the regulars need 30-40 at-bats before they start swinging well. Wieters has 35, Jones 37 and Andino 39.
Jones, who has five hits in his last six at-bats, is batting .405.
Arrieta allowed one run and four hits in his third start. He walked one and struck out two, but said he didn’t quite feel his best.
“Just one of those days in spring where you go out and feel a little bit off physically,” Arrieta said. “Wasn’t tired or didn’t feel bad. Felt a little uncomfortable at the start of the game.”
NOTES: Johnson said that if RHP Drew Storen isn’t ready to close on opening day, RHPs Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez would. The manager would prefer to keep RHP Tyler Clippard in a setup role. Storen is sidelined with inflammation in his right elbow. Nationals SS Ian Desmond had about 200 friends and family members at the game. He grew up about 1 1/2 miles from the stadium. LHP Dontrelle Willis pitched the sixth inning in his first game with the Orioles. He walked his first three batters, and two scored.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)