Showalter on a 5-4 12-inning win

The Orioles’ streak of scoring in the first inning ended tonight at four games, but they had much bigger issues. They couldn’t buy a hit off Nationals ace Max Scherzer, the two-time Cy Young Award winner. Walks were cause for celebration, the only way that the Orioles could get on base.

Seth Smith walked to lead off the bottom of the first and Scherzer retired 14 in a row before Jonathan Schoop walked with two outs in the fifth. J.J. Hardy ran the count full and struck out on a nasty slider.

As the tension mounted, Smith made certain that Scherzer would have to settle for greatness without the historic twist. Smith drove a changeup into the right field seats with one out in the sixth, breaking up no-hit and shutout bids with one swing.

One problem was solved, but the Orioles still had to find a way to beat the Nationals while protecting a short bullpen. It took 12 innings and a bases-loaded single by Mark Trumbo to make it happen, with the Orioles winning 5-4 before an announced crowd of 26,348 at Camden Yards.

The Orioles ran their winning streak to six games and improved to 22-10, the best record in the majors. They’re 5-1 in extra innings.

From no-hit candidates to home plate celebrants.

trumbo-walk-off-side.jpgAdam Jones and Manny Machado singled off Jacob Turner with one out in the 12th. The Nationals walked Chris Davis intentionally and Trumbo lined a single into left field on the next pitch.

Trumbo also came through in New York after an intentional walk. It’s pick your poison.

“I’m happy with Chris up there, too,” said manager Buck Showalter. “There’s a lot of decisions over the course of that game. You know your players and you know what you have and what you don’t have. I feel good with any of our guys up there. Either one of those guys.”

Logan Verrett worked his extra-inning magic again, tossing three scoreless frames with only two hits allowed to earn the win. He also won his Orioles debut on April 30 after shutting out the Yankees in the 10th and 11th innings in the Bronx.

“Logan, that was a key for us because we only had really three pitchers tonight out of the bullpen, so we had to do some things differently with everybody, including Ubaldo (Jiménez),” Showalter said. “That was a challenge for him. We were contemplating about sending (Wade) Miley out to the bullpen. We were hoping to stay away from that. But Logan was, considering he had eight days off, too, that was pretty impressive. But he did a lot of work in between. That’s twice Logan has done that for us.”

Adam Lind’s pinch-hit, tie-breaking three-run homer to center field in the eighth inning appeared to be the Orioles’ undoing, but they scored twice in the ninth off Enny Romero on a two-out RBI double by Jonathan Schoop and a run-scoring single by Hardy. A balk allowed Trumbo to move up after Davis was forced at second base on a misplayed fly ball and decision not to slide.

Just another oddity for the Orioles in a season already filled with them.

Jones homered in the bottom of the eighth to reduce the Nats’ lead to 4-2. His 744 RBIs with the Orioles are tied with Brady Anderson for sixth on the club’s all-time list.

Jiménez followed three scoreless relief innings in Boston with a gem that, before the eighth, was smudged only by Daniel Murphy’s solo home run in the second.

The Nationals didn’t have a hit after Trea Turner’s two-out single in the third until Anthony Rendon led off the eighth with a single. Matt Wieters followed with a bloop single into center field as Mychal Givens warmed in the bullpen.

Showalter stuck with Jiménez, who struck out Chris Heisey after two failed bunt attempts. Lind pinch-hit for Michael A. Taylor and belted a three-run homer to center field to break a 1-1 tie.

Left-hander Donnie Hart didn’t start to warm up until the ninth, joining Verrett. He hasn’t pitched since Saturday night.

Jiménez was charged with four runs and five hits in 7 2/3 innings, with two walks, six strikeouts and two home runs. He threw 112 pitches, 68 for strikes.

“Ubaldo pitched real well,” Showalter said. “When you’ve got a guy like Scherzer out there, you know runs are going to be at a premium for your offense, so you’ve got to really dial up a good one, and he did. Really proud of him. That was a really good lineup and he pitched well.”

Showalter already is working with a six-man bullpen, and it wasn’t at full strength, which contributed to Jiménez staying through the Lind at-bat.

“Oh yeah, that figured into it strongly,” Showalter said. “We’ve got to think about a lot of things. We’ve got Mychal and Donnie a little bit and they got all the moves with the switch hitters, left and right. He actually had some success against him. He gave up a slicing ball to right and a broken-bat single and came back with a strikeout and just hung a split, I believe it was.”

Scherzer has carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning in 10 of his 74 starts with the Nationals. This was just another night at the office.

“You hope to sneak in that first hit somewhere,” Showalter said. “It’s one of those things where Smitty hits a breaking ball and we go, ‘We’re tied.’ Scherzer, there are just very few opportunities, but you’ve got to pitch well to have a shot against a guy like him and the guy tomorrow and the guy last night. They’ve got a good pitching staff, that’s why they’re so good.

“We were fortunate in a couple of situations, but the guys just never give in. They think they’ve got an opportunity as long as they have an at-bat and some outs left. But it’s hard to beat those type of guys. You’ve got to have things fall your way, especially when you’re shorthanded in the ‘pen.”

Davis led off the seventh by grounding a ball through the right side, and Schoop doubled to left-center field with two outs. Wieters saved a run with a backhanded stop of a pitch in the dirt, and Hardy grounded out to keep the score tied.

The Orioles had a prime opportunity to end the game in the 10th after Smith led off with a single and pinch-runner Joey Rickard reached second base when Wilmer Difo dropped Rendon’s throw at second base on an attempted force play. But Oliver Pérez struck out Davis looking and Trumbo popped up the first pitch from Turner.

Hardy doubled with two outs in the 11th and was thrown out at the plate on Caleb Joseph’s single to right field. The 12th inning beckoned.

And then it ended with the Orioles owning the best record in the majors.

“Really?” Showalter asked. “Lot of baseball to be played. So far, so good. We’ve played a tough part of the schedule, not that any part is easy up here. But what you perceive as the hard part of your schedule in April, when the season is over you might look back at it and say maybe it wasn’t.

“You never know how a season is going to play out. Our guys have grinded through the first month and some odd half, and a lot of it has had to do with the pitching. Guys have done the job out of the ‘pen. Just about every time we’ve had to reach for the need down below, those guys have come up and for the most part really have done a job for us. That’s really a good test for us down there.”

Perhaps another bullpen move is forthcoming after Verrett threw 33 pitches.

“Well, I’m sure Dan (Duquette) is sitting at my office when I get back,” Showalter said. “It’s hard to know whether (Brad) Brach or (Darren) O’Day will be available tomorrow. Whether Mychal will be available. A lot of those things, you can’t make that decision until tomorrow. And I didn’t want to use (Alec) Asher again tonight.

“Usually what happens is when a guy pitches like that they’re a little sore the second day, which he was today. Roger (McDowell) and I made the decision we weren’t going use three or four of our guys tonight regardless.”

The night still ended with one more win.

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