WASHINGTON (AP)—The Orioles entered the Beltway Series coming off a nightmarish late-inning loss and sporting a taxed bullpen. Jason Hammel and a run-producing lineup came to the rescue.
Baltimore responded in the opener allowing four runs in the ninth inning for a 6-5 loss in Toronto the day before.
“After four tough games in Toronto I can’t tell you how proud I am of everybody,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Hammel was outstanding with a much needed lengthy outing.”
In his deepest start since throwing eight innings in a winning effort at home against Washington on June 22, Hammel (7-2) improved to 4-0 at Nationals Park. The right-hander struck out eight and allowed eight hits in eight innings.
He threw a third-strike fastball past Tyler Moore to end the sixth inning and strand the potential tying run.
The Nationals played without Bryce Harper who has swelling in his left knee.
“For the year, definitely the best start,” Hammel said. “It was all because of the fastball command.”
Meanwhile, Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez (3-3) had control issues in spots. After allowing only five earned runs and posting a 3-1 record in his previous four starts, Gonzalez gave up four runs and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings with four walks and three strikeouts.
The Orioles were scoreless until tallying three runs in the fourth off Gonzalez. Navarro’s bloop RBI single tied the score at 1 and put runners on first and second with one out. After Hammel bunted, Markakis hit a two-out, two-run single.
Gonzalez, who went 21-8 last season, said he challenged hitters throughout the game, but dealt with postgame questions regarding consistency on the mound this season.
“Four starts in a row isn’t consistent? Seems pretty consistent to me. You’re entitled to have a bad game once in a while. I’m not going to be perfect, but at the same time I was in the zone, I was attacking them. … That’s a good hitting team, got to give them their credit.”
Machado hit his AL-leading 23rd double, stole a base and scored a run. The 20-year-old has seven games with at least three hits since May 10.
Asked about the game plan against Machado, Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki bluntly said, “Hopefully he hits it at somebody right now.”
With the Nationals searching for offense throughout the season, manager Davey Johnson vowed last week not to shave until the bats came alive. He kept the promise even though Washington scored six runs Sunday and had won three of four games.
“Gio wouldn’t let me,” Johnson cracked pregame, “but we’re getting close.”
Perhaps, but the Nationals scored two or fewer runs for the 25th time in 51 games. Washington went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
Matt Wieters hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth put Baltimore up 4-1.
Harper’s injury was aggravated in Sunday’s 6-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies and he had an MRI. Team medical director Wiemi Douoguih said the outfielder has inflammation of the bursa sac in front of his knee, which he anticipates “clearing up in a couple of days.” Harper underwent an MRI, which showed some soft tissue swelling, but no structural damage, Douoguih said.
The Nationals and Orioles play four straight games this week. Wednesday and Thursday’s will be in Baltimore.
NOTES: Before the game, the Nationals placed LHP Ross Detwiler on the 15-day disabled list with a right back muscle strain and recalled LHP Xavier Cedeno from Triple-A Syracuse. After the loss, Washington sent Cedeno back to Syracuse and called up RHP Nathan Karns from Double-A Harrisburg. Karns will start and make his major league debut on Tuesday against RHP Kevin Gausman (0-1), who will make his second career start for the Orioles. … Douoguih provided updates on several injured Nationals including C Wilson Ramos Out since May 16 with a left hamstring injury, Ramos will miss another four weeks. … Danny Espinosa (fractured right wrist) missed his fourth straight game, but could return to the lineup on Wednesday if no additional swelling takes place after the second baseman took swings on Monday. … Jayson Werth out since May 2 with a right hamstring strain, could play in rehab games later this week and return to the Nationals active roster next week. … Hitting coach Rick Eckstein served as first base coach with Tony Tarasco absent due to the birth of his child. … RHP Yunesky Maya designated for assignment by the Nationals on Saturday, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse.