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Washington Nationals blow lead in 9th, swept on walk-off fielder’s choice; 5-4 Baltimore Orioles final...

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Brad Hand took the mound with a 4-3 lead in the ninth and blew the save opportunity, and the Nationals got swept in Oriole Park.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore’s Orioles hit three solo home runs off Washington Nationals’ starter Paolo Espino in Oriole Park at Camden Yards this afternoon, but Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run blast off of O’s starter John Means in the sixth, turning a 3-1 lead in the home team’s favor into a 4-3 lead for the visitors.

It stayed that way until the ninth, when Brad Hand gave up the lead and the game as the O’s walked off with a win and swept the three-game set, 5-4 final.

Espino vs the Orioles: Paolo Espino got the call again for this afternoon’s series finale with the O’s, after Max Scherzer was scratched and Jon Lester moved up to start in last night’s game.

Espino tossed five scoreless against the Marlins last time out before today, leaving him with a 3.00 ERA, a 3.89 FIP, nine walks, 34 strikeouts, and a .228/.260/.383 line against in the 22 games he’s pitched in, six of them starts, and 51 IP overall on the season.

He took the mound with a 1-0 lead, but gave it right back, falling behind Trey Mancini with one out and giving up a 455-foot home run to left on a 2-0 fastball that the O’s slugger flat crushed for his 18th HR of the 2021 campaign.

Maikel Franco hit a 3-2 slider up in the zone out to left on a line for a 418-foot home run that put the Orioles up 2-1 on the Nationals in the second.

Ryan McKenna connected for the third solo home run off Espino in the bottom of the fourth, hitting a 91 MPH 3-2 fastball out to center, 398 feet from home, for a 3-1 O’s lead after four.

Espino worked around a leadoff walk in the fifth, getting a one-out grounder from Cedric Mullins for an inning-ending 6-4-3 DP on his 79th and final pitch of the game.

Paolo Espino’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 3 HRs, 79 P, 51 S, 1/3 GO/FO.

Means vs the Nationals: Orioles’ lefty John Means started the season unbeaten in his first seven outings, over which he was (4-0) with the O’s 5-2 in his starts, over which he had a 1.37 ERA, 10 walks, 50 Ks, and a .135/.187/.237 line against in 46 IP.

In his last six heading into today’s game, however, the 28-year-old was winless, going (0-3) with the club (0-6) in his outings, over which he put up a 4.80 ERA, three walks, 21 Ks, and .271/.293/.551 line against in 30 IP, and he fell behind early this afternoon, in the finale with the Nationals in Oriole Park.

Means hit Alcides Escobar, gave up a single to left-center by Trea Turner, and walked Juan Soto, loading them up with no one out, but he limited the damage to one run, that scored on a one-out grounder by Ryan Zimmerman, 1-0, after a 1/2-inning in OPACY.

Means retired nine straight after the first three runners of the game reached base, but a leadoff single by Josh Bell in the fourth snapped that streak, though Ryan Zimmerman hit into a 6-4-3 double play in the next at bat, and a Josh Harrison grounder to short ended a 12-pitch frame which left the lefty at 45 total after four.

A four-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left Means at 49 pitches overall, but the Nationals made him work in the sixth, with Escobar reaching via another HBP, Turner singling again with two out, and in a two-on, two-out at bat, Ryan Zimmerman came through with a go-ahead home run to the deepest part of the park, dead-center in OPACY. Zim’s 11th of 2021, 4-3 Nats.

Means returned to the mound in the top of the seventh, but a two-out double by Alcides Escobar ended the left-hander’s day...

John Means’ Line: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 87 P, 55 S, 7/9 GO/FO.

#TKCHZ: Ryan Zimmerman got another start with the expanded AL-ball lineup in Oriole Park, and the 36-year-old veteran, in his 16th MLB campaign, took the field with hits in a total of 21 of 34 starts this season, over which he had a .250/.292/.471 line, six doubles, eight home runs, and 24 RBIs.

Zimmerman hit his ninth home in 35 starts on the season in the sixth, a go-ahead, three-run blast that traveled 402 feet to center.

Bullpen Action: Kyle Finnegan tossed a scoreless, 10-pitch bottom of the sixth after the Nationals took the lead in the top of the inning.

Paul Fry took over for the O’s with a runner on second and two out in the top of the seventh, and got Trea Turner looking to keep it a one-run game.

Finnegan came back out for more work in the bottom of the seventh inning, and got two outs, around a one-out walk, before manager Davey Martinez turned to Daniel Hudson.

Hudson got the final out of the inning, striking out Austin Wynns to keep it a 4-3 lead for the Nationals.

Fry got two outs around a single in the Nationals’ eighth, but after a walk to Josh Harrison put two on with two down, the Orioles went to the pen again for César Valdez, who walked Carter Kieboom to load them up in front of pinch hitter Yadiel Hernández, who sent a fly to left to end the threat. Still 4-3 Nationals.

Hudson came back out for the bottom of the eighth and gave up back-to-back singles in the first two at bats, with Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini both hitting their way on, but a Ryan Mountcastle liner up the middle started a 4-6-3 DP, and DJ Stewart K’d swinging to end the threat. Still 4-3 Nationals.

Valdez gave up a one-out single by Alcides Escobar in the top of the ninth, and a two-out walk to Juan Soto before he was replaced on the mound by Cole Sulser, who got Josh Bell to ground out for out No 3.

Brad Hand got the call in the bottom of the ninth, with a 4-3 lead, and hit Maikel Franco to start the inning. Ryan McKenna singled in the next at bat, sending Franco around to third, and a walk to pinch hitter Austin Hays loaded the bases with no one out, and Pat Valaika hit a first-pitch slider to right for a sac fly, 4-4. Ramón Urías sent a grounder to third in the next at bat, but McKenna beat the throw home by Carter Kieboom. O’s win, 5-4 final.

Final Score: 5-4 Orioles

Nationals now 45-53