Soriano homered for the third straight game and drove in three runs to lead Washington over the Baltimore Orioles 8-3 Saturday night.
“We played aggressive tonight,” Zimmerman said. “If we can just keep doing that, and make them make mistakes instead of just sitting back and waiting for something to happen, I think we’ll turn this around.”
Soriano’s sudden penchant for all-or-nothing offense is a step in the right direction. He’s homered in five of seven games, and seven of his last 13 hits have been home runs.
“You’ve seen his numbers over the past four or five years—I think everyone expects him to do it,” Zimmerman said. “He’s a great player and he makes our lineup better.”
Nationals manager Frank Robinson would like more offense up and down the lineup, but he isn’t going to ask Soriano to change his approach.
“I don’t think he ever backs off,” Robinson said. “If you make a mistake that he can catch up to, he has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark.”
Zimmerman scored the tiebreaking run during Washington’s four-run sixth inning on an errant pickoff throw by catcher Ramon Hernandez, helping the Nationals to their fourth win in 15 games at RFK Stadium.
Lopez’s first pitch to pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson was a ball, and Hernandez threw wildly to third trying to get Zimmerman. The ball sailed into left field, allowing Zimmerman to score and Escobar to move to second.
“It shouldn’t rattle the club, we should still go about our business the way we’re supposed to,” Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said. “Ramon, he just tries to be a little too quick, I think, with his throws.”
Anderson followed with a run-scoring single to make it 5-3 and Julio Manon relieved Lopez. Manon walked Wiki Gonzalez and hit pinch-hitter Damian Jackson with a pitch to load the bases, then walked Soriano on a 3-2 pitch to force in a run.
Jon Rauch (1-1) worked a scoreless sixth for the win.
Lopez, whose only victory came on opening day, failed to win for the ninth straight start. He allowed six runs and eight hits, walked one and struck out one.
With right-hander Daniel Cabrera (shoulder tightness) already on the disabled list, Perlozzo doesn’t relish the thought of possibly pulling Lopez out of the rotation.
“We’re still looking for another starter as it is, so I don’t know how we’re going to replace two,” Perlozzo said. “He’s going to have to just keep working at it. Hopefully he’ll get better for us.”
The Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the second when Zimmerman led off with a double, moved to third on Escobar’s groundout and scored on Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly.
Baltimore scored twice in the third inning. After walks to Brandon Fahey and Miguel Tejada, Jay Gibbons hit a run-scoring single to center with one out. Both runners advanced on Escobar’s wild throw home for an error, and Tejada scored on Hernandez’s bouncer to shortstop.
Kevin Millar’s bloop single to right-center scored Tejada, who had drawn a leadoff walk, for a 3-1 lead in the fifth.
Soriano’s two-run homer in the fifth tied the game. With two outs, pinch-hitter Robert Fick singled and Soriano hit Lopez’s 0-1 pitch over the left-field wall for his 15th homer.
Nationals starter Tony Armas went five innings, giving up three runs—two earned—and seven hits. He walked a season-high five and struck out one.
Escobar made his Nationals debut after being recalled from Double-A Harrisburg on Friday night. OF Ryan Church was optioned to Harrisburg. … Baltimore OF Corey Patterson had two infield hits, including his sixth bunt single of the season. … Washington has homered in five straight home games.