The decision (and the blunder)

Today’s attendance: 22,951

Jason Berken tossed another scoreless inning today, getting a ground ball, pop up and fly ball in the seventh to keep the game tied, 3-3.

Interim manager Juan Samuel removed Berken after one inning and brought in left-hander Will Ohman with two lefties, Adam Kennedy and Adam Dunn, due up for the Nationals in the eighth.

Kennedy and Ryan Zimmerman singled to put runners on first and second with no outs. Dunn struck out swinging, and David Hernandez replaced Ohman with Josh Willingham on deck.

Hernandez struck out Willingham and Roger Bernadina, so Samuel’s strategy didn’t backfire in his face. It did, however, leave him open to some second-guessing.

Berken has appeared in three of the last four games, and Samuel might be looking to limit the right-hander’s innings. But there had to be some temptation to leave him out there.

Berken has allowed one earned run in his last 11 appearances, and his ERA is down to 1.66. It’s also worth noting that left-handers were batting .189 against him before today, and he retired Nyjer Morgan for the final out in the seventh.

Before today, Berken led AL relievers with 42 1/3 innings pitched. So far, he isn’t showing any signs of wearing down from the workload.

Now for the blunder: Julio Lugo doubled with one out in the eighth inning, but catcher Wil Nieves picked him off second base after Lugo broke for third, slammed on the brakes and tried to get back to the bag. Corey Patterson naturally followed with a double.

Did Patterson miss a sign? Did Lugo? Was Lugo running on his own and suddenly changed his mind?

It might not matter: Miguel Tejada singled up the middle to score Patterson and give the Orioles a 4-3 lead.

Down on the farm, left-hander Michael Gonzalez will throw one inning today at short-season Single-A Aberdeen after beginning his injury rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Orioles.

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