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Orioles drop series against the Nationals with narrow 6-5 loss

Despite falling behind early and having John Means pulled in the first, the Orioles bided their time and got to ace Max Scherzer in the latter half of the game. But yet, they lost to the Nats by a single run.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles
Juan Soto scores a run as Chance Sisco looks out onto the field.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It didn’t take long for the Nationals to jump ahead of John Means and the Orioles on Sunday afternoon. That is, if you don’t count shortstop Trea Turner’s 11-pitch leadoff at-bat, which included five foul balls and resulted in a free pass. Juan Soto followed that up with a single and then Asdrubal Cabrera came up with a single that drove Turner home.

Kurt Suzuki hit a bloop popup into shallow right field that had Renato Nunez zig-zagging as he ran backwards and went into a slide, with the ball landing safely in the grass. At that point, the bases were loaded. Carter Kieboom lofted a sacrifice fly to left and Victor Robles also got in on the hit parade, smacking an RBI single into left.

John Means was unable to get out of the first, removed after allowing three runs on 34 pitches in 0.2 innings. The O’s would have to deploy five relievers to get through the game.

Manager Brandon Hyde tapped Jorge Lopez as the first to come out of the pen. It was the 27-year-old right-hander’s first appearance with the Orioles, having joined Baltimore by way of Kansas City and bringing with him a career 5.97 ERA and 1.52 WHIP across five plus major league seasons.

The Orioles got one run back in their half of the first when Anthony Santander cracked a four-bagger onto Eutaw Street. It was his sixth home run of the season, tying Rio Ruiz for the team lead.

There were a few interruptions in the bottom of the second, culminating in what seemed like Nats manager Dave Martinez’s ejection from the game. But after Martinez left the dugout to jaw with home plate umpire Will Little, Anibal Sanchez could be seen heading to the clubhouse, apparently for yelling from the stands about the strike zone. Further clarification revealed that hitting coach Kevin Long was ejected in addition to Sanchez.

Washington pushed a run across against Lopez in the fifth on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kurt Suzuki. That prompted another pitching change, with Evan Phillips entering as the third pitcher of the day for the O’s. An inherited runner scored when Kieboom singled off Phillips, adding to Lopez’s earned run total.

Despite allowing two earned runs, Jorge Lopez provided value in relief this afternoon, lessening the burden on the bullpen by pitching four innings after John Means’ early exit. Lopez also racked up five strikeouts and allowed three hits while averaging 13-14 pitches per inning.

After Kieboom’s single, Phillips surrendered back-to-back walks to Robles and Josh Harrison to load the bases, but he was able to strike out Michael Taylor to end the threat.

It became even more obvious during the next inning that Phillips’ control was way off. He was pulled from the game with two outs in the sixth after loading the bases on a pair of walks and a hit batter. Shawn Armstrong bailed him out after inducing a fly out to end the inning.

After holding the Orioles in check for the previous four plus innings, Scherzer surrendered a big home run in the bottom of the sixth. With one out in the inning and two men on base, Pedro Severino mashed a monstrous three-run shot to left that was just inside the foul pole.

Severino continues to carry a hot bat, going 3-for-4 with three RBI on the day to raise his triple slash line to .333/.394/.633.

The Nats decided to send Scherzer back out to the mound in the bottom of the seventh but Anthony Santander didn’t mind at all, reaching Eutaw Street for the second time in the game with another solo home run, which tied the score at five apiece. It was Santander’s seventh home run of the year, elevating him over Nunez for most homers on the team.

The tie was short-lived though. With Travis Lakins pitching for Baltimore, the Nats pushed an unearned run across after an errant throw from Rio Ruiz skipped past first baseman Renato Nunez and allowed Juan Soto to score from second.

Oriole hitters struck out a ghastly 15 times in the game, with 10 coming courtesy of starter Max Scherzer. On the flip side, the Birds only worked one walk. The rest of Scherzer’s pitching line included eight hits and five earned runs, including three home runs, over seven innings (111 pitches, 75 strikes).

With Washington ahead 6-5 in the ninth, Daniel Hudson was summoned by the Nationals for the save situation. He entered the game with a 4.26 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and three saves. Leading off the ninth, Pat Valaika grounded out to short to end a seven pitch at-bat. Chris Davis pinch hit for center fielder Cedric Mullins and worked the count full before striking out. Then Hanser Alberto struck out to end the game.

The O’s will move on to a new opponent tomorrow, starting a three-game series at Camden Yards against the only AL East team they have not played yet this year — the Blue Jays.