Gio Gonzalez's third walk of the night ended his outing. Washington's 29-year-old lefty took the mound with a 2-1 lead in the seventh, having made just one "mistake" in the previous six innings, on a first-pitch change to Baltimore's center fielder, Adam Jones, in the fourth. But the home run by Jones accounted for the only run Gonzalez allowed in six-plus innings, and he left with a one-run lead after putting Orioles' DH Jimmy Paredes on in the first at bat of the seventh on what was the Nationals' starter's 106th pitch.
Aaron Barrett, who returned from a rehab stint for a bicep strain earlier in the day, came on in relief and set the next three batters down in order, striking out two in a quick, 14-pitch appearance.
"More of the same," Matt Williams said when asked about Gonzalez's outing after what ended up a 3-2 loss.
"Lots of curveballs, didn't really have the feel for it as much so he went to the changeup a little more, but he got us into the seventh, walked the first guy so we had to go get Barrett, but pretty good."
Casey Janssen gave up a swinging bunt single by Orioles' pinch hitter Chris Parmalee in the bottom of the eighth with the Nats' one-run lead still in tact, but a hard-hit liner off Adam Jones' bat found its way into Yunel Escobar's glove at third for the first out of the frame, at which point Williams went to the pen for left-hander Matt Thornton.
The move forced O's backstop Matt Wieters, a switch-hitter, to turn around and hit from the right side, where he had a .105 AVG (in an admittedly small sample size since his season started in early June) before the series opener with the Nats in Oriole Park at Camden Yards, as opposed to his .286 AVG vs right-handed pitchers, though those splits are reversed for his career (.278 AVG vs LHP as a RHB, .249 AVG vs RHP as a LHB).
His average vs LHP as a RHB jumped to .217 after Wieters lined an RBI double to the right-center gap on a first-pitch fastball for his first two-base hit from the right side this season and just his fifth hit overall in 23 at bats vs left-handers since he returned from the DL following Tommy John surgery last season.
Williams referenced the head-to-head history between Thornton and Wieters, and the next batter in line, when he was asked about the decision to go with the lefty reliever.
"It's a good matchup for Matty there," he said. "Wieters is 0 for 3 with a couple punchouts and of course the big lefty [Chris] Davis, but he left one out over and [Wieters] hit one in the gap."
Thornton retired the next two batters, stranding Wieters at second, but the game was tied heading into the ninth, and after the Nationals failed to score, Tanner Roark took the mound in OPACY and retired the first two batters he faced, striking out both, before Jonathan Schoop hit a 2-2 slider out to left on a line for a walk-off winner which handed the Nats their third straight loss.
"The pitch that went out of the ballpark is not a bad pitch," William said. "[Schoop] got out and hooked a slider."
"He just got out and hooked it, small ballpark and just got it over. So, it's the way this park plays sometimes."
Tyler Moore too, who had a good view from first base, said Roark's pitch wasn't necessarily a bad one.
"The pitch [Schoop] hit out was a good pitch, located pitch," Moore told reporters after driving in one of the Nats' two runs and scoring the second.
"[Schoop] just one-handed it. In this stadium, the ball travels pretty good. It was unfortunate for us. It sucks."
"[He] got some good wood on it, it got out of here," Roark said. "That's really basically what happened."
"I just checked it out and I thought it was a good pitch, maybe could have been a touch lower, but like I said, he put good wood on it and it got out."