WASHINGTON -- The Nationals had strong pitching long before they began an eight-game winning streak. They had solid defense, too.
But Sunday against Baltimore, Washington had neither, and its winning streak ended with a 7-4 loss to the Orioles in the finale of the Beltways Series in front of 35,439 at Nationals Park.
"We know we were sloppy today, and that's why we lost," said Ryan Zimmerman, who made the first of three Nationals errors in the second inning to give Baltimore its first run. "You don't deserve to win games when you play like that."
Offensive production, although limited, mattered little in this one. Roger Bernadina's and Danny Espinosa's solo home runs and RBI doubles from Michael Morse and Espinosa were not enough compared to what Baltimore did to the Nationals pitchers.
Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny made his first start after a stint on the 15-day disabled list. Manager Jim Riggleman said before the game they hoped for about 90 pitches over five or six innings. Gorzelanny threw 76 and lasted only 4 2/3 frames to fall to 2-5.
"We could've had him pitch one more rehab start, but we felt a need to bring him in here today and pitch," Riggleman said. "He did some good things and got ground balls when he needed them for double plays, but he normally strikes some people out and didn't have that going for him today. He really didn't have his strikeout stuff going today."
Todd Coffey finished the fifth inning, when Gorzelanny allowed two of his five runs -- four earned -- but the right-hander gave up a Mark Reynolds home run in the sixth.
Sean Burnett pitched a scoreless seventh before Collin Balester appeared for the first time since his Wednesday promotion from Triple-A Syracuse. He allowed an unearned run on a sacrifice fly after Wilson Ramos' attempt to catch Nolan Reimold stealing second bounced off the runner and into left field, advancing Reimold to third.
Trouble started earlier than that, though, as Gorzelanny allowed a run in every inning except his 1-2-3 first.
"I felt healthy and strong, had a lot of energy," Gorzelanny said. "I felt good out there today, I was just leaving balls up. I went back and looked at everything and saw every ball that was hit was waist high. You can't be successful throwing pitches like that."
Zimmerman made his error in the second, when the third baseman attempted to start a double play, but delivered a wild throw that put runners on the corners with no outs. Derrek Lee later scored from third base on a double play.
The former Gold Glove Award winner changed his throwing mechanics to involve more of his legs and core while on the disabled list, but said it had little to do with the error. Zimmerman would go on to make a throw to start a ninth-inning double play.
Baltimore followed the unearned run with runs in the next two innings to take a 3-0 lead before the Nationals responded in the bottom of the fourth.
"They are streaking right now," said Orioles starter Chris Jakubauskas, who allowed three runs over five innings for the win. "They are one of the hottest teams in baseball."
But Gorzelanny encountered more trouble in the fifth, and the lineup's attempt at providing support came up short as pitching and defense kept the Nationals below .500.
"It's a long season, and you're going to have a couple games where you play terrible defensively," Zimmerman said. "The thing is you just have to learn and realize that's why you lost the game. When we won all those games in a row, it was because we were playing good defense and doing the little things right."
Steven Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.