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Updated: Thursday, April 21, 2005 12:45 AM EDT



  R H E  
Braves 0 5 1 WP: Day (1-1)
LP: Ramirez (1-1)
S: Cordero (3)  
Nationals 2 6 0
Nationals' Day shuts down struggling Braves

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Zach Day 's sparkling performance kept the Atlanta Braves ' bats cold.

Day scattered three hits in seven innings as the Washington Nationals posted a 2-0 triumph over the Braves, who have lost four of their last five contests.

It was the first shutout at RFK Stadium since Detroit's Mickey Lolich shut out the Washington Senators, 3-0, on September 6, 1971.

"We had a good game plan going in, and I trust my stuff," Day said. "The main thing is just going out there and pitching, even if you have good stuff but your location is not there."

Atlanta, which left seven runners on and grounded into two double plays, continued to struggle offensively. The Braves have mustered more than one run just once in their last five contests - scoring five times over that span.

"We have to just keep swinging," said Braves outfielder Raul Mondesi , who went 0-for-3. "The way we are right now, we have to keep battling and keep trying harder every day. We are struggling."

Day (1-1), who gave up seven runs and nine hits in his last start, an 11-2 loss to the Braves on April 11, rebounded with a stellar outing despite issuing four walks.

"It's a game of adjustments," Day said. "They've done well against me in the past and we went back and took a look at what's going on. Seven (scoreless innings) in a big game is pretty key. I think the team needed it."

Nationals manager Frank Robinson said Day just needs to believe in himself.

"It wasn't pretty, but he got it done," Robinson said. "The thing we want from him is to get out there and trust his stuff. Zach Day has good stuff. If he can get it in the strike zone he can get major league hitters out. You just agonize over it when he struggles the way he was in the first inning.

"I hope he proved something to himself so he can go out there and be sharper the next time and trust his stuff - put the ball in the strike zone and make them swing the bat."

After allowing the first two batters of the game to reach, Day got Chipper Jones to ground into a double play before Johnny Estrada flied out.

"He was one hit in the first inning from being out of the ballgame and he winds up throwing seven innings of (scoreless) baseball," Robinson said. "That just goes to show you, you never know. He got stronger as he went along. The main thing is he started throwing the ball in the strike zone."

In the seventh, Day issued a leadoff walk to Adam LaRoche , but struck out Brian Jordan before Andruw Jones bounced into a double play.

Atlanta attempted to rally in the ninth by getting two of its first three batters aboard, but Washington closer Chad Cordero struck out both Jordan and Andruw Jones for his third save.

"(Cordero) did the job for us," Robinson said. "It looked like he reached back and got a little extra in the ninth inning when he got into trouble. He's a gutsy kid. He hasn't got all the stuff in the world, but he battles."

Washington's Jose Vidro supplied all of the offense with a two-run homer off Braves starter Horacio Ramirez (1-1) in the third.

"With two strikes, I was looking for a pitch to hit out of the ballpark," said Vidro, who extended his hitting streak to 10 games. "He hung a pitch to me and I was able to hit it for a home run. It felt great, but we won because our pitching staff did a great job tonight."

Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson also extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a first-inning single.

On the other hand, the Braves' Andruw Jones is mired in a career-worst slump. After going 0-for-4 and leaving five runners on, Jones is hitless in his last 27 at-bats.

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