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Schneider's big hit keeps Nationals hot

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Acquired in a trade early Friday, Junior
Spivey got to the ballpark after the game began, entered as a
pinch-runner and scored the tying run.

Sun-woo Kim found out he would make his first start of the
season just 6 hours ahead of time, and threw five solid innings.
Rick Short persevered for more than a decade in the minor leagues,
waiting for a shot at the majors, and when he finally got his first
at-bat in the bigs, he drove in a run.

No matter who is called upon by the Washington Nationals these
days, he delivers.

Spivey, Kim and Short all played roles in the NL East leaders'
9-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night, a win built
on a six-run eighth inning.

The list goes on and on.

Vinny Castilla, who led the NL in RBI last year, puts down a
perfect sacrifice bunt. Jamey Carroll, out for two games with a
sprained ankle, enters late and delivers an RBI infield hit. Four
relievers follow Kim and keep it close.

"Everybody believes in themselves right now. Put anybody in any
situation, and they think positive," said Brian Schneider, whose
single provided the go-ahead runs.

"We'll have to see who it is tomorrow."

Washington enters Saturday having won eight straight games, and
11 of 12.

"This is what I kind of would say is an amazing streak,"
manager Frank Robinson said. "But the club doesn't amaze me,
because the club showed me early it has the heart and the desire."

The game went to the bottom of the eighth at 3-all, but
Washington sent 11 men to the plate and managed to score all those
runs with the benefit of just three singles. Five walks helped.

Jose Guillen led off with a hit off reliever Shigetoshi Hasegawa
(1-2), who then walked Nick Johnson. Then came Castilla's bunt, and
Spivey was walked intentionally to load the bases with one out.
That brought up Schneider, whose hit made it 5-3.

With runners on the corners, Carroll bunted. The ball flew past
Hasegawa, who barehanded it and flipped it to first, but too late
to get Carroll, and Spivey scored. Pinch-hitter Tony Blanco walked
to load the bases with one out, and Hasegawa gave way to Matt
Thornton. That didn't exactly stem the tide, because Thornton
promptly walked Brad Wilkerson and Ryan Church, each forcing in a
run.

Guillen then came up for the second time in the inning and hit a
grounder that first baseman Richie Sexson smothered for the second
out, with Blanco coming home for the final Washington run.

"We couldn't throw strikes, and that's just plain and simple,"
Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "We got ourselves in
trouble."

Luis Ayala (6-3) earned the win by getting three outs in the
eighth. Hector Carrasco, the fifth Washington pitcher, worked a
scoreless ninth.

The day began with the Nationals making a flurry of changes.
They acquired second baseman Spivey from Milwaukee for Friday's
scheduled Washington starter, Tomo Ohka. And they claimed two
right-handers off waivers, including Ryan Drese, the Texas Rangers'
opening day starter.

"This is a real team," general manager Jim Bowden said.
"Frank's got some pieces to work with now, and we've got some
flexibility."

With Ohka gone, Kim made his first start of the season, and he
went five innings, allowing two runs and five hits.

Mariners starter Joel Piniero allowed two runs and six hits.

"Not that I was running out of gas, but I went six innings, and
three lefties were coming up in a row," said Piniero, who left
with a 3-2 lead.

Washington tied it in the seventh off Ron Villone. Carlos Baerga
walked, and Spivey pinch ran. He was sacrificed to second, moved to
third on pinch-hitter Wil Cordero's groundout, and scored on
pinch-hitter Marlon Byrd's grounder. Byrd's ball was bobbled by
shortstop Mike Morse, and it was ruled a hit.

"I was ready. I didn't know when I'd be called upon," said
Spivey, who got to the dugout in the third inning, and immediately
went from a team that's 11 games out in the NL Central to a
first-place club.

"You can't walk into a better situation than this right here."

Seattle went up 2-0 in the fourth, but Short began what would be
Washington's 11 comeback in its past 12 wins. After 1,235 hits in a
minor league career that began in 1994, he got his first major
league at-bat, pinch-hitting in the fifth.

On an 0-2 pitch, he singled to left and brought home the
Nationals' first run.

In just two days in Washington, he quickly got a sense of what
the team is about.

"We're going to battle back," said Short, who had the ball he
hit resting on the top shelf of his locker, and a fruit basket at
his feet. "That was one of the first things I picked up on when I
got here."

Game notes
Sexson hit his 14th homer and had an RBI single. His solo
shot landed in the upper deck. ... Wilkerson tripled in the third
inning for his 500th career hit.