Soriano homers in third straight game to lift Nationals

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ryan Zimmerman thinks the key to a Washington
Nationals turnaround lies in being aggressive and riding Alfonso
Soriano's offensive surge.

Soriano homered for the third straight game and drove in three
runs to lead Washington over the Baltimore Orioles 8-3 Saturday

"We played aggressive tonight," Zimmerman said. "If we can
just keep doing that, and make them make mistakes instead of just
sitting back and waiting for something to happen, I think we'll
turn this around."

Soriano's sudden penchant for all-or-nothing offense is a step
in the right direction. He's homered in five of seven games, and
seven of his last 13 hits have been home runs.

"You've seen his numbers over the past four or five years -- I
think everyone expects him to do it," Zimmerman said. "He's a
great player and he makes our lineup better."

Nationals manager Frank Robinson would like more offense up and
down the lineup, but he isn't going to ask Soriano to change his

"I don't think he ever backs off," Robinson said. "If you
make a mistake that he can catch up to, he has the ability to hit
the ball out of the ballpark."

Zimmerman scored the tiebreaking run during Washington's
four-run sixth inning on an errant pickoff throw by catcher Ramon
Hernandez, helping the Nationals to their fourth win in 15 games at
RFK Stadium.

With the game tied at 3, the Nationals rallied against Rodrigo
Lopez (1-7). Zimmerman singled with one out and went to third on
Alex Escobar's hit-and-run single to left.

Lopez's first pitch to pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson was a ball,
and Hernandez threw wildly to third trying to get Zimmerman. The
ball sailed into left field, allowing Zimmerman to score and
Escobar to move to second.

"It shouldn't rattle the club, we should still go about our
business the way we're supposed to," Baltimore manager Sam
Perlozzo said. "Ramon, he just tries to be a little too quick, I
think, with his throws."

Anderson followed with a run-scoring single to make it 5-3 and
Julio Manon relieved Lopez. Manon walked Wiki Gonzalez and hit
pinch-hitter Damian Jackson with a pitch to load the bases, then
walked Soriano on a 3-2 pitch to force in a run.

Kurt Birkins replaced Manon and gave up a sacrifice fly to Jose
Vidro, making it 7-3.

Jon Rauch (1-1) worked a scoreless sixth for the win.

Lopez, whose only victory came on opening day, failed to win for
the ninth straight start. He allowed six runs and eight hits,
walked one and struck out one.

With right-hander Daniel Cabrera (shoulder tightness) already on
the disabled list, Perlozzo doesn't relish the thought of possibly
pulling Lopez out of the rotation.

"We're still looking for another starter as it is, so I don't
know how we're going to replace two," Perlozzo said. "He's going
to have to just keep working at it. Hopefully he'll get better for

The Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the second when Zimmerman led
off with a double, moved to third on Escobar's groundout and scored
on Gonzalez's sacrifice fly.

Baltimore scored twice in the third inning. After walks to
Brandon Fahey and Miguel Tejada, Jay Gibbons hit a run-scoring
single to center with one out. Both runners advanced on Escobar's
wild throw home for an error, and Tejada scored on Hernandez's
bouncer to shortstop.

Kevin Millar's bloop single to right-center scored Tejada, who
had drawn a leadoff walk, for a 3-1 lead in the fifth.

Soriano's two-run homer in the fifth tied the game. With two
outs, pinch-hitter Robert Fick singled and Soriano hit Lopez's 0-1
pitch over the left-field wall for his 15th homer.

Nationals starter Tony Armas went five innings, giving up three
runs -- two earned -- and seven hits. He walked a season-high five
and struck out one.

Game notes
Escobar made his Nationals debut after being recalled from
Double-A Harrisburg on Friday night. OF Ryan Church was optioned to
Harrisburg. ... Baltimore OF Corey Patterson had two infield hits,
including his sixth bunt single of the season. ... Washington has
homered in five straight home games.