Orioles 4-3 over Nationals to earn split of two-game set in OPACY

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals battled back from a 4-0 deficit and Gio Gonzalez turned it on after struggling early, but the Baltimore Orioles avoided the sweep in the two-game set with a 4-3 win tonight in Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

B&O Warehouse Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: Gio Gonzalez's scoreless inning streak ended at 22 straight two batters into tonight's game with the Baltimore Orioles in Oriole Park at Camden Yards when O's left fielder Steve Pearce hit a solo home run out to left field for an early 1-0 lead over the visiting Washington Nationals.

The Orioles added to their lead in the third with Adam Jones doubling in a run with two down. Two runs scored on an RBI single by Nelson Cruz, the second on an errant throw by Ian Desmond which broke a 13-game errorless streak by the Nationals' defense. 4-0 O's after three.

A one-out single by Anthony Rendon and a two-out HBP on Adam LaRoche in the fourth brought Ryan Zimmerman up in an RBI opportunity and Zim cashed it in with a line drive double to center that got the Nationals on the board, 4-1 O's after three and a ½ in OPACY.

The Nationals knocked Chen out in the top of the sixth. Jayson Werth took a hanging-a** 0-2 curve from the left-hander out to left field for a solo home run and one out after Ryan Zimmerman hit a ground-rule double to left-center in Oriole Park, Ian Desmond bounced his 13th two-base hit of the year off the out-of-town scoreboard in right to drive Zimmerman in and make it a 4-3 game.

The Nationals loaded the bases in the eighth and put a runner on in the ninth, but couldn't get the fourth run.

4-3 Orioles final.

4. 22 Straight: With one scoreless inning on the mound against the Houston Astros on June 18th in Nationals Park, six scoreless against the Milwaukee Brewers in Miller Park on June 23rd, seven scoreless against the Chicago Cubs on June 28th in Wrigley and eight more against the Cubs on July 5th in D.C., Washington Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez put together 22-straight scoreless innings going back to the fifth inning of his five inning outing against the Astros upon returning from the first DL stint of his major league career.

"When you can throw your breaking stuff for strikes, then it makes your fastball look better, of course, and he's relied on it." -Matt Williams on Gio Gonzalez's pitch selection

Matt Williams told reporters that in Gonzalez's outings against the Brewers and Cubs, his command of his curve and changeup allowed him to get comfortable on the mound again after he struggled in two starts before his DL stint and early in his first start back.

"He's had a really good feel the last three starts with both of them," Williams said. "And he's relied on them, so if he gets in a jam he can throw either one of those. He can use either one of them as a strikeout pitch which we saw today. It allows him, I think, to get earlier outs. His pitch count was pretty high the first couple of innings, but then he settled in really nice and got through the eighth, which is a good sign for him, at [109 pitches], that's pretty good."

Wins in each of those three outings left Gonzalez (6-4) on the year with a 3.52 ERA, 3.18 FIP, 30 walks (3.52 BB/9) and 78 Ks (9.16 K/9) in 13 starts and 76 ⅔ IP.

Tonight in Baltimore, Gonzalez was taking on an Orioles team he faced six times in his career, going (1-3) with a 3.75 ERA, 17 walks (4.25 BB/9) and 28 Ks (7.00 K/9) in 36 IP over which he held O's hitters to a combined .283/.365/.333 line.

Three of those outings took place in Camden Yards, where the Nats' southpaw was (1-1) with a 2.79 ERA, five walks (2.33 BB/9) and 13 Ks (6.05 K/9) in 19 ⅓ IP in which the Orioles posted a .286/.333/.312 line.

On the road this season, Gonzalez was (3-3) with a 3.80 ERA, a 3.60 FIP, 18 walks (3.80 BB/9) and 44 Ks (9.28 K/9) in 42 ⅔ IP, holding opposing hitters to a .219/.309/.409 line in starts away from the nation's capital.

Gonzalez took the mound 40 miles away from Nats Park in the bottom of the first tonight...

1st: Nick Markakis grounded out to second to start the Orioles' first. Gonzalez's scoreless inning streak ended when Steve Pearce hit a 2-0 fastball out to left for a solo home run and a 1-0 lead. Adam Jones grounded out to first for out no.2 and Nelson Cruz fouled strike three into Wilson Ramos' mitt to end a 14-pitch first by Gonzalez.

2nd: Chris Davis grounded out to short. J.J. Hardy lined out to Denard Span in center. A 93 mph 2-2 fastball got Manny Machado swinging to end a 13-pitch inning, 27 total after two.

3rd: O's catcher Caleb Joseph popped up to second for the first out of the third. Jonathan Schoop K'd swinging over an 84 mph 3-2 change. Nick Markakis took a two-out walk in front of Steve Pearce, who lined a hanging 1-2 curve to right for a two-out single. Adam Jones stepped in with two on and two out and sent a pop to right on an 0-1 curve... and it dropped in for an RBI double. Nelson Cruz grounded to short in the next at bat, and Ian Desmond made an ill-advised throw to third trying to catch Jones rounding the base and Desmond threw it away. E:6. Two runs score, 4-0 O's. Chris Davis' groundout to second ended a 28-pitch frame. 55 total after three.

4th: Orioles' shortstop J.J. Hardy singled through short to start the Orioles' half of the fourth, but he was doubled up on a Manny Machado grounder to first when Adam LaRoche started the old 3-6-1 DP. Caleb Joseph singled on a weak roller to second. A line drive back into Gonzalez's glove off Adam Jones' bat ended the O's fourth after 10 pitches from the Nats' starter, who was up to 65 after four.

5th: Nick Markakis grounded out to short to start the O's fifth. Steve Pearce sent a high fly to left for out no.2. Adam Jones' grounder back to the mound ended a quick, eight-pitch frame that left Gonzalez at 73 total after five.

6th: Nelson Cruz K'd swinging at a 1-2 change. Chris Davis K'd swinging at a 2-2 curve that broke in over his hands. J. J. Hardy sent a 1-1 fastball to center for out no.3 of a quick, 13-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth that left Gonzalez at 86 pitches total after six.

7th: Manny Machado took a four-pitch walk to start the bottom of the seventh. Caleb Joseph K'd swinging for out no.1 and Gonzalez's 6th K. Jonathan Schoop K'd swinging on a 93 mph 1-2 heater. No.7. Gonzalez issued a two-out walk to Nick Markakis, and Matt Williams came out to get his starter...

Gio Gonzalez's Line: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 109 P, 64 S, 7/2 GO/FO.

3. Wei-Yin Chen vs Washington: Orioles' lefty Wei-Yin Chen, 28, bounced back from a rough 3 ⅓-inning outing against the Tampa Bay Rays in which he surrendered seven hits, two walks and five earned runs before he was lifted, with a six-inning outing against the Texas Rangers last time out in which he gave up six hits, two walks and two earned runs in a 5-2 win in which he improved to (8-3) on the year.

The start against the Rangers was the 17th of Chen's third major league season after he left the Chunichi Dragons of Nippon Professional Baseball and signed a 3-year/$11.388M deal with the Orioles back in January of 2012.

In 98 ⅓ IP so far in 2014 before tonight, Chen posted a 4.12 ERA, a 4.43 FIP, 18 walks (1.65 BB/9) and 69 Ks (6.32 K/9) with opposing hitters, putting up a .284/.317/.478 line against him.

At home in Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Chen entered the second game of two with the Nationals with a (4-2) record, a 3.84 ERA, 4.36 FIP, 11 walks (1.62 BB/9) and 40 Ks (5.90 K/9) in 10 starts and 61 IP in which visiting teams have put up a .279/.319/.456 line.

He was, however, facing a Nats team against whom he was (0-2) with a 7.71 ERA in 9 ⅓ IP in which Washington's hitters put up a .341/.413/.634 line.

The Nationals entered tonight's game with a .281/.341/.408 line vs LHP this season, good for 1st/1st/5th vs NL lefties.

Chen retired the Nationals in order in an 11-pitch frame in the first. Ten pitches got Chen through a 1-2-3 second, 21 total after two. Wilson Ramos singled with one down in the third, breaking up Chen's nascent no-hit bid, but he was doubled up on a grounder to third by Kevin Frandsen in the next at bat. Nine-pitch frame for Chen, 30 total after three.

Anthony Rendon singled with one down in the Nats' fourth, but Jayson Werth K'd swinging through a 2-2 fastball up high outside. Adam LaRoche took a fastball inside on his jersey, putting two on with two out and Ryan Zimmerman due up, and Zimmerman's line drive center brought Rendon around to make it a 4-1 game. Bryce Harper K'd looking to end a 25-pitch frame that left Chen at 55 total after four.

Chen retired the first two batters in the fifth before giving up a two-run single to left by Kevin Frandsen, but Anthony Rendon K'd swinging to end a 19-pitch inning. 74 total for Chen after five.

Jayson Werth fell behind 0-2 to Chen, then took a hanging 0-2 curve to left for a solo blast that made it a 4-2 game. Ryan Zimmerman hit a ground-rule double to left-center one out later, and Ian Desmond came through with a two-out RBI double to right that bounced off the out-of-town scoreboard. 4-3 game in the Orioles' favor after Desmond's 13th two-base hit.

Wei-Yin Chen's Line: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 89 P, 62 S, 7/1 GO/FO.

2.27-21: With last night's win the Washington Nationals pulled within six games of the Baltimore Orioles in the overall series between the two franchises since baseball returned to the nation's capital in 2005. The only previous season series win for Washington came in 2007 when the Nationals were 4-2 against their regional rivals.

In the eight seasons in which they've played head-to-head matchups, the Nationals were 1-4-3 in season series against the O's.

The Nationals entered tonight's game with a chance to sweep the two-game set with one more to be played in Nationals Park on August 4th after Tuesday night's game was postponed by rain in the nation's capital.

The loss tonight left the Nationals 1-2 vs the Orioles in 2014 with one more to play.

1. The Wrap-Up: Orioles' RHP Tommy Hunter replaced Wei-Yin Chen and retired Wilson Ramos to end the Nationals' sixth. Hunter came back out for the top of the seventh and retired the side in order to preserve the Orioles' 4-3 lead.

Aaron Barrett took over for Gio Gonzalez after the Nats' lefty issued a two-out walk to Nick Markakis in the Orioles' seventh. Steve Pearce grounded into a force on the first pitch he threw, ending the threat.

Darren O'Day started the eighth. Adam LaRoche doubled to center with one down, just missing a game-tying home run. Ryan Zimmerman K'd swinging at an 0-2 slider. Bryce Harper got the intentionals to bring Ian Desmond up with two on and two out. Desmond missed a 2-2 fastball from O'Day that got by O's catcher Caleb Joseph, allowing both runners to advance.. and Desmond got hit by the second 2-2 fastball. WIlson Ramos stepped in with the bases loaded and popped out to to center. 4-3 Orioles after seven and a half.

Aaron Barrett completed a scoreless bottom of the eighth to keep it close.

Zach Britton came on to close it out. Kevin Frandsen grounded out to second. Scott Hairston grounded weakly to second. Anthony Rendon rolled a weak grounder to third that bounced off the bag and stayed fair for a two-out hit. Jayson Werth stepped in with one on and two out and grounded into a force at second to end it.

Nationals now 49-41

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