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Orioles 8, Nationals 1: Birds ride 13 hits and three replay challenges to victory

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The Orioles' lackluster August offense exploded on Nationals rookie Reynaldo Lopez, giving Gausman his 5th win of the season.

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Save for a 10-2 win over the White Sox and a 13-5 defeat of the Astros, the Orioles haven't scored many runs in August. That changed tonight as the team battered Nationals starter Reynaldo Lopez for six hits and six runs (four earned) before adding a pair against the bullpen. Kevin Gausman didn't dominate but pitched well enough to get the win, scattered six hits across six innings and walking two batters but striking out only two.

The Orioles opened the scoring right away. Adam Jones singled to lead off the Orioles in the bottom of the first inning. Steve Pearce followed with a walk. They waited while Manny Machado struck out, but Jones made it to third when a Chris Davis groundout forced Pearce out at second base. Jones scored when the next hitter, Mark Trumbo, singled into left field. The scoring might've continued but Trumbo was thrown out trying to reach second base.

In the second inning, it was more of the same. With one out, Pedro Alvarez worked Lopez for a walk. Matt Wieters then doubled to deep right field and Alvarez, running hard, scored the Orioles' second run. J.J. Hardy grounded out on a comebacker that advanced Wieters to third. Jones then beat out an infield single, which scored Wieters and made it 3-0 Orioles.

Third inning: different hitters, similar results. Machado K'd to start the inning, but Davis and Trumbo hit back-to-back singles. Always fun to see the tater mashers go station-to-station. Schoop then doubled to deep left field, scoring Davis to make it 4-0 Orioles.

The Birds weren't done. Alvarez walked yet again. Wieters flew out to left, but then Hardy lined a rocket just to the right of Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy, who could only stick his arm out and watch the ball carom off his glove into right field. Trumbo and Schoop scored on the play, which was ruled an error on Murphy. A hard-luck error; that ball was hit very hard.

Either way the score was now 6-0 Orioles, and Lopez's evening was done. Matt Belisle entered the game and worked three innings of effective reliev. He allowed no baserunners and struck out two batters. Meanwhile, Gausman kept getting round ball after ground ball to offset his lack of strikeouts. He ended the night with 45% grounders, a very good rate for him.

Vance Worley relieved Gausman in the seventh and things immediately got shaky. Ryan Zimmerman and Clint Robinson singled back-to-back before Danny Espinosa singled home Zimmerman for the Nats' first run. Robinson was thrown out going to third base on a bonehead play. When you're down by five runs in the seventh, you stay put on the basepaths. The Orioles sure enjoyed the free out.

Not that it mattered much. That was all the offense the D.C. team could muster. But the Orioles still weren't satisfied. They tacked on a run in the bottom of the 7th, and Chris Davis smashed his 30th home run of the season in the 8th. He now has four 30-HR seasons for the Orioles. The only man with more is Eddie Murray, who has five.

Worley also got his first career save. Stay with me on this one. He entered the game with his team up by six runs and the Orioles won by seven. What gives?

Well, he meets all the the criteria for a save. Per Rule 10.20:

  • He finished a game that his team won (Condition #1 in the rulebook)
  • He did not get the win (Condition #2 in the rulebook)
  • He pitched for at least three innings (Condition #3c)
Yep, that's right, you heard it here first. Vance Worley, superstar closer. Zach Britton, eat your heart out!

Buck had a hand in this victory as well. Well, his replay staff did. Nationals rookie Trea Turner reached base each of his first two times up. Each time, he attempted to steal. Each time, Matt Wieters fired the ball to Jonathan Schoop. Each time, Schoop slapped the tag down. Each time, Turner was ruled safe. Each time, Buck challenged the play. And each time, the call on the field was overruled. The replay staff also got Adam Jones called safe at first on a challenge in the bottom of the third.

The Orioles now stand at 69-56 while the Nationals fall to 73-52. Toronto and Boston both won tonight, so the Orioles remain 2 game out of first place. Tomorrow Wade Miley is scheduled to face Tanner Roark.