Washington trailed 10-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning on Wednesday.
Baltimore Orioles’ skipper Buck Showalter sent right-hander reliever Parker Bridwell back out to the mound in Nationals Park after he threw a 1-2-3 eighth.
Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson hit back-to-back singles to start the frame and one out later Jayson Werth walked to load the bases in front of Daniel Murphy, who hit a grand slam on a 2-0 fastball from the O’s reliever.
In what was all-of-a-sudden a 10-7 game, Showalter sent closer Zach Britton out to face Bryce Harper, who singled to left field.
Anthony Rendon stepped in next and ended Britton’s streak of 43 consecutive relief appearances without an earned run allowed, a streak that stretched back to May 5th, with an RBI double to right field that made it a two-run game, 10-8.
Wilson Ramos grounded back to the mound in the next at bat, and Britton threw to second, trying to get Rendon, but the Nationals’ third baseman got back safely.
With two on and one out... Ryan Zimmerman sent a grounder to second that started an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP.
The Nationals staged a comeback, but it fell short.
“The thing that I’m proud of my team about, they showed a lot of fight and if you keep fighting like that, you’re going to win a lot of ballgames,” Dusty Baker told reporters after the Nats’ fourth straight loss.
“I had mentioned to some of the guys, I said, ‘Hey, man, the good teams gotta come back and come back we did.
“I just know that we’re starting to swing the bats and I can feel it in my heart that we’re going to get hot — cause we really haven’t been hot all year, we’ve been consistent, but we haven’t been hot.”
“Everybody has their hot streak and I think that ours is going to come right on time.”
The ninth inning rally, Baker said, was a positive sign. His team didn’t quit and in the end they made a game of what was a blowout to that point.
“I look at it in the big picture,” Baker explained, “because our guys were focused and concentrating and they were fighting and that’s what this game is all about.
“It’s about never giving up if you’ve got a chance, and we had a chance to win that game. And then Zim hit the lights out of that ball. Britton got a sinker up, which is what you try to do. And in my mind, they escaped and they got away.
“They won the game, but for the people that left, that just shows you that this team is never out of a game.”
Now if they can just win one, and stop their four-game slide... and avoid getting swept by the Orioles.