Notes: Robinson's juggling paying off

Notes: Robinson's juggling paying off

CHICAGO -- On Sunday, the Nationals reached the halfway point of the 2005 season, and they find themselves with a 49-31 record and in first place in the National League East.

Manager Frank Robinson said he is pleased the team is winning with the different lineups he has had to put together. The team has had a lot of injuries, and there have been times, for example, that Robinson has had a double play combination of Jamey Carroll at short and Carlos Baerga at second.

"To be honest with you, I do look at the lineup, and say, 'Ooh,' because you don't have the people in there you counted on to be in there every day," Robinson said. "But I admire these guys because when I put different names in the lineup, they have done the job."

Robinson said the Nationals have been successful this season because they are doing the little things to win ballgames, such as bunting runners over an extra base and hitting sacrifice flies. He also said the team has had great pitching, good defense and timely hitting.

Robinson now wishes that the Nationals didn't have an All-Star break, so they could continue their great run. But the good news is that he is expecting to have players such as Ryan Church and Jose Vidro healthy by the start of the second half of the season.

Injury report: Wil Cordero did not play in Sunday's game against the Cubs because of a sore left knee. He had fluid drained out of the knee before the game. Robinson thinks he will not play for at least two games.

Cordero had arthroscopic surgery on the knee last April.

With Cordero out and Nick Johnson on the DL, Baerga received the starting nod at first base on Sunday.

Trade deadline chatter: According to a baseball source, the Nationals have inquired about Reds outfielder Austin Kearns, who is currently in the Minor Leagues. He was having a subpar year for the Reds, hitting .224 with six home runs and 25 RBIs. The Nationals believe they can straighten Kearns out as a hitter. If he were to join the Nationals, Kearns would possibly platoon with Church in left field.

Minor League report: Vidro, who is on the disabled list because of a high left ankle sprain and torn peroneal tendon outside the ankle, played in his third rehab game for Class A Potomac on Saturday and went 0-for-1 with two walks and a run scored against Class A Kinston. Vidro also broke up a double play in the game.

Zach Day, on the disabled list because of a fractured right radius, had his first rehab game on Saturday for Double-A Harrisburg. He pitched three innings and gave up a run on three hits.

Stat of the day: Entering Sunday's action, the Nationals are 28-2 when they score five or more runs this season.

Did you know: Entering Sunday's action, the Nationals have spent 39 days in first place in the NL East, seven days in second, 37 in third and seven days in fourth. The Nationals have thus far avoided the division cellar this season.

On deck: The Nationals return to Washington D.C. to play a four-game series against the Mets at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium starting Monday afternoon.

Right-hander John Patterson will get the start for the Nationals in Game 1. He will face the Mets for the second time this season. On May 1, Patterson pitched six innings and gave up three runs. He struck out four and walked three. Patterson did not figure in the decision, as the Nationals lost the game, 6-3.

In his last start, Patterson ended up pitching five innings and giving up two runs on three hits against the Pirates, as the Nationals won the game, 3-2.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.