WASHINGTON - This one wasn’t easy, but the Orioles made sure that they’ll leave Nationals Park with a series victory.
The Orioles won again tonight, 6-4, with Jim Johnson picking up his 15th save in 15 tries this season, and his 23rd in 23 chances since last August, though it got a little tense near the end.
The Orioles have won 19 of their last 26 games. They’re still two games ahead of Tampa Bay in the American League East.
The bullpen came up big again, giving the Orioles 3 1/3 scoreless innings before Ryan Zimmerman homered off Johnson with two outs in the ninth.
Luis Ayala let two inherited runners score, but he struck out the last two batters he faced in the seventh.
Manager Buck Showalter let Ayala begin the eighth, and Ian Desmond led off with a double. Ayala hadn’t worked more than two innings in any appearances this season, and he was approaching that total.
Enter Troy Patton, who won a 10-pitch battle with pinch-hitter Xavier Nady by retiring him on a grounder to third.
Enter Pedro Strop, who walked Carlos Maldonado, but retired Roger Bernadina and pinch-hitter Danny Espinosa on fly balls - both on 98 mph fastballs.
Johnson got two ground balls before Zimmerman took him deep. Adam LaRoche fell behind, 0-2, worked the count full and struck out.
The Orioles improved their road record to 15-5, best in the majors. They’ve won nine straight games away from Camden Yards.
The Orioles are 14-3-2 in their last 19 series since Sept. 12, 2011.
Manager Buck Showalter is 130-130 since taking over the Orioles.
Anyone having fun yet?