Notes: Nats see help on way

Notes: Nats see help on way

TORONTO -- Help is on the way for the Nationals pitching staff.

Five of Washington's disabled pitchers made rehab appearances at three different Minor League levels on Friday.

Right-hander John Patterson, the Nationals' Opening Day starter, allowed three earned runs on three hits while walking three over 2 1/3 innings for Class A Potomac.

Jason Bergmann -- who opened the season as Washington's No. 4 starter -- pitched three scoreless innings for Triple-A Columbus, and former No. 5 starter Jerome Williamsallowed two runs over three innings for Double-A Harrisburg.

"Good outings, except Patterson" said Nationals manager Manny Acta. "He had a little bit of a problem locating his pitches, but he felt good. So, I was very happy with all of the results."

Injuries to the pitching staff is something the Nationals have had to deal with for the majority of the season. Washington is missing four-fifths of its Opening Day starting rotation and the only hurler who has remained healthy is left-hander Matt Chico. The four pitchers who stepped in for the injured starters have combined to go 9-10 with a 5.54 ERA in 24 starts.

One starter who hasn't made an appearance for the Nationals this season is left-hander Mike O'Connor. The 26-year-old is still trying to work his way back from offseason surgery on his left elbow. O'Connor made his second rehab appearance of the season on Friday for Double-A Harrisburg. He allowed just one run on five hits over four innings of work. O'Connor made 21 appearances for the Nationals last season, going 3-8 with a 4.80 ERA.

Relief pitcher Luis Ayala walked one batter and didn't allow a run in one inning for Double-A Harrisburg. It was the first time Ayala has pitched on back-to-back days since undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery in March 2006.

Ayala reportedly felt fine after his outing and Acta said on Saturday that the plan is to give the 29-year-old righty another appearance over the next couple of days before having him throw in back-to-back games again next week.

Overall, Acta thought Friday was a productive day for the future of his pitching staff.

"We have to wait today and see how they feel," said Acta, "then go from there. But it's a good first step."

Watson keeps on rolling: Triple-A Columbus center fielder Brandon Watson tied a 95-year-old International League record on Saturday afternoon by extending his hitting streak to 42 games.

Watson doubled to left off of Ottawa Lynx left-hander Eude Brito in the top of the fourth inning to tie the historic record.

Entering Saturday's action, the 25-year-old outfielder is hitting .338 with 14 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 54 games this season for Columbus.

The International League record was previously set by Jack Lelivelt, who played for the Rochester Hustlers in 1912. It's the 11th longest streak in the history of Minor League baseball. Outfielder Joe Wilhoit set the overall record in 1919 with a 69-game hitting streak in the Wichita League.

Watson will have a chance to set a new International League record on Sunday afternoon against Ottawa right-hander Joseph Durbin.

Resting Nationals: Acta gave shortstop Christian Guzman and catcher Brian Schneider the day off on Saturday afternoon.

Guzman has reached base safely in each of his last 15 games and over that span is hitting .413 with seven walks.

Ayala said he gave Guzman the day off just to make sure his shortstop stays fresh.

"We've got to look down the road," Ayala said. "We don't want to run [Guzman] down, especially, he had some tightness in his legs earlier in the year."

Infielder Ronnie Belliard got the start at short and is expected to get a start at second base tomorrow in place of Felipe Lopez.

Did you know? Including Friday's home run by left fielder Ryan Langerhans, the Nationals have hit 22 home runs in their last 23 games. Washington hit just 20 in its 44 games before that.

On deck: Left-hander Micah Bowie (3-2, 3.89 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for Washington when it closes out a three-game series against the Blue Jays at 1:07 p.m. ET on Sunday at Rogers Centre. Right-hander Josh Towers (2-4, 5.31 ERA) will go for the Blue Jays.

Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.