Hot Nats bats provide challenge for Britton tonight

While Zach Britton has to bat in tonight's game in Washington, how he pitches against a hot team will still very likely be the bigger determining factor in whether he and the Orioles get a win tonight.

After giving up 14 earned runs in 16 2/3 over a three-start stretch, Britton returned to earlier form in his last start against Oakland on June 8 when he gave up just one run over 6 1/3 innings to post his first win since May 1.

Britton is 2-2 with an ERA of 4.94 in four road starts in 2011.

Tonight he faces a Nationals team that ranks 12th in the National League in runs and 15th in batting average but sixth in homers. Plus, the Nats have been red hot with six wins in a row and they scored 25 runs in a three-game sweep of St. Louis.

The Nationals hit four homers in each of their last two games and they are one of just three teams in baseball - along with the Yankees and Diamondbacks - that feature four players with double-figure homers.

Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa have hit 12 each while Lance Nix and Jayson Werth have 10 each.

Meanwhile, Nats' starting pitchers have worked to an ERA of 2.50 over their last 16 games and 12 times in that run their starters gave up two earned runs or less.

By the way, these two teams lead their respective leagues in throwing out runners. Washington catchers have nailed a major-league leading 47.6 percent and the O's have thrown out 35.8.

The Nats' Wilson Ramos has caught 12-of-24 while Pudge Rodriguez has gotten 8-of-18. For the Orioles, Matt Wieters is 17-of-39 while Craig Tatum is 2-of-9 and Jake Fox was 0-for-5 while he was with the club.

The Orioles took the last two games of that last series with Washington after that Friday blowout loss by a 17-5 score. But the Nats have won the last six as I mentioned and they are 10-5 in June and 17-12 this year at home.

And yes, you may do a double take when you see the Nats' lineup. They are batting pitcher Jason Marquis eighth and center fielder Roger Bernadina ninth. They started this six games ago (the pitcher batting eighth) and haven't lost since.

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