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03/16/08 5:20 PM ET

Patterson trying to regain form

Despite shaky outing, Acta pleased righty is healthy

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander John Patterson had his toughest outing of the spring on Sunday afternoon, pitching four innings and giving up six runs on eight hits in an 11-3 loss to the Orioles.

Patterson didn't feel any pain in his right forearm, which has given him major problems the past two years, but his whole body never felt right -- despite a bullpen session before the game. It didn't help that he still is recovering from the flu. Patterson mentioned he pitched very little in the past two years and it's going to take a while before he can hope of again becoming the pitcher that struck out 185 batters in 2005.

"I felt a little tight. I felt a little sluggish," Patterson said. "I didn't want to try and overthrow. I just tried to throw my pitches over the plate. For a while, it was going along good.

"I haven't pitched a lot, so I'm going through some things right now. I'm trying to get my body into shape, my arm into shape."

Patterson shut out the Orioles in the first two innings, but Baltimore scored four times in the third. However, Patterson should have been unscathed in that inning. With one out, Brandon Fahey singled to left fielder Garrett Guzman, who threw a strike to catcher Humberto Cota, but Cota mishandled the ball, allowing Ramon Hernandez to score.

Brian Roberts made the second out of the inning, but it was a struggle after that. Melvin Mora, Nick Markakis and Kevin Millar each had an RBI hit. In the next inning, Roberts drove in two runs with a double.

"I didn't feel very good. I felt tight," Patterson said. "It was one of those days where I pushed and did the best that I could with what I had."

Nationals manager Manny Acta didn't care about Patterson's pitching line on Sunday. All the skipper cares about is Patterson staying healthy for the rest of the spring.

"As long as John shows up to the ballpark and says he is fine with no pain, that's all I care about," Acta said. "If he's healthy, that's our main goal here."

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