To Gordon Bradley, two out of three isn't bad, especially on the road and especially when there is yet a chance to make it three out of three.

Bradley's Washington Diplomats left here happy after slapping the Portland Timbers, 1-0, Wednesday night. It was the Dips' fourth straight North American Soccer League victory and second in a row on their trip to the West.

The diplomats play in Minnesota Saturday, hoping to put even more pressure on the National Conference Eastern Division leader, the Cosmos.

The Cosmos (15-4, 135 points) lead by only 12 points over the 14-6 Dips.

"This road trip is a success no matter what happens in Minnesota," Bradley declared. "We win two out of three no matter what, and I can't complain about that."

Washington's top scorers, Alan Green, Paul Cannell and Joe Horvath, left Portland without padding their point totals, but Bradley couldn't complain about that, either.

Improbable hero Carmine Marcantonio, 5-foot-9 midfielder from Castel di Sangro, Italy, stunned a crowd of 17,613 (Portland's second largest of the season; the Cosmos pulled in 18,254 in May) before many had returned to their seats for the second half.

One minute after halftime, Marcantonio drilled a rebound from 20 yards past Portland goalkeeper Mick Poole.

It was Marcantonio's first goal in 51 NASL games. He had scored only one other point in 2 1/2 years in the league. He probably would not have started against Portland, had Sakib Viteskic not been idled with a pulled thigh muscle.

"He (Marcantonio) was the last person we expected to score," Bradley said. "We put him on (Johan) Cruyff in Los Angeles and set him on (Portland's John) Bain early and then Stewart Scullion. He did a good job marking them all.

"That goal - he looked down, and there was the ball."

The result excited Bradley; otherwise, the game did not.

"The game wasn't well played at all," he said. "There was a tremendous amount of effort from both teams, and we ended up nullifying each other. A bad game for the fans."