WASHINGTON - The Orioles had four hits by the second inning. They still had four hits by the time the ninth inning rolled around.
Adam Jones reached on an infield hit to open the ninth and Chris Davis singled with one out, but the damage was already done. The Nationals got out of a bases-loaded jam and avoided the sweep with a 9-3 win before 41,918 at Nationals Park.
The offense shut down. Before Jones’ single, the only baserunner after the second inning came on Luis Exposito’s walk in the seventh.
OK, we’ll credit the Nats’ pitching instead of hammering the Orioles’ offense. It happens sometimes.
Stephen Strasburg retired the last 10 batters he faced, striking out seven. I thought the Orioles would perk up once he came out of the game, but the bullpen was just as good.
Danny Espinosa hit a two-run homer off left-hander Dana Eveland in the eighth after Darren O’Day retired all five batters he faced. Jones collapsed on the warming track after making a leaping attempt at the fence, and he was limping after getting back on his feet. But he stayed in the game and beat out a high chopper behind the mound.
The Orioles didn’t get the sweep, but they already won the series.
Rough day for second baseman Robert Andino, who flipped the ball to second on an attempted double play - Ian Desmond beat the relay - stopped running to first base on a chopper down the third base line that stayed fair, failed to make a backhanded stop on a sharp bouncer that was scored a hit, and committed a throwing error in the eighth before Adam LaRoche’s sacrifice fly.
Tampa Bay also lost today, so the Orioles continue to lead the American League East by two games.
The three-game series drew 120,929 fans to Nationals Park.