Nats’ bullpen fades in loss
WASHINGTON—Long after Stephen Strasburg did his best to keep Washington on a roll, the Nationals found out why the Baltimore Orioles have climbed to the top of the AL East.
Chris Davis hit the tie-breaking home run in the 11th inning—part of a six-run uprising that carried the Orioles to an 8-2 victory last night.
The other hit was a two-run homer by Nelson Cruz.
“He’s having a great year,” Strasburg said of Cruz.
“I need to do a better job of being smart with the location and not necessarily get into the whole challenge, challenge, challenge,” he noted.
Cruz got the better of that confrontation but Strasburg had no complaints after turning in a solid encore to his previous outing, when he allowed one run in 7 2/3 innings against Colorado.
“I just wanted to go out there and try to build on the last start, just focus on the execution of the pitches,” the right-hander said.
“We played great defence but it was tough how it ended.”
The Orioles came in ranked second in the majors with 107 home runs—and they padded that total with three in the 11th.
After Cruz led off with a broken-bat single off Craig Stammen (0-4), Davis worked the count full before launching a drive into the centre-field seats to end a 2-for-38 funk that had dropped his batting average to .198.
“I really did not think he would be able to hit that pitch out,” said Stammen, who had allowed just one home run all season.
“He was right on it and he was looking for it,” Stammen noted.
“It was a little bit higher than I wanted it.”
It was Davis’ 14th home run of the season but the first since a game-winning, pinch-hit shot against the Chicago White Sox back on June 23.
He led the majors with 53 homers last year.
“Nobody likes to struggle but at the same time I try to keep a positive mind frame,” Davis said.
“If you sit there and dwell on how bad you are scuffling, it’s going to be hard to get out of it,” he reasoned.
J.J. Hardy followed with a solo shot, Nick Markakis chased Stammen with an RBI double, and Machado added a two-run drive off Aaron Barrett.
T.J. Macfarland (2-2) worked two scoreless innings for the win.
Machado had a career-high five hits to help the Orioles earn their seventh win in eight games.
Anthony Rendon homered for the Nationals, who lost for only the second time in nine games.
Oakland blanked San Francisco 5-0 in the only other interleague game yesterday.