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BAL@WSH: Jones goes 3-for-4 with a two-run homer

WASHINGTON -- Adam Jones came into the 2012 season searching for more consistency. So far, so good. Jones hit his fourth homer in his last five games, an early two-run shot that helped the Orioles to a 6-5 victory over Washington before 42,331 at Nationals Park on Saturday.

The win was Baltimore's fifth straight, and the Orioles (27-14) have a two-game lead over the Rays in the American League East. In addition, the Orioles have a nine-game road winning streak and are an MLB best 15-5 away from home this season. They've got the top record in the AL.

Jones has an 11-game hitting streak -- the third time this season he's hit in at least 10 straight games. He's also among the AL leaders in homers and has registered 13 multihit games. On Saturday, Jones hit a two-run shot to left off Washington starter Ross Detwiler that gave the Orioles a 4-0 lead in the third. The home run, his 14th of the season, was part of a 3-for-4 evening, which raised Jones' average to .310.

"He's that type of talent and he's in a good place mentally," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He's slowed the game down some, but at the same time, he's letting it rip every time he gets an opportunity to help his team."

Jones said that he was struggling earlier in the year during situations with runners in scoring position and realized it was time to change things.

That was all part of the search for consistency.

"I think I just try to kind of slow everything down," Jones said. "I needed to back away from it, let the ball come to me and see the ball. And lately, I've just been trying to see the ball, use my hands and not really try to think too much at the plate, because thinking always -- hitters are never supposed to think, they're just supposed to hit.

As Jones goes, so go the Orioles so far this season. This win improved their record to 13-1 when he hits a home run.

"Right now I'm executing whatever my plan is," Jones said. "And that's just to see the ball, get a good pitch to hit and hit it."

The Orioles got several key hits early off Detwiler (3-3) during the left-hander's five-inning outing. Robert Andino started the scoring with a two-run single in the second, and Nick Markakis made it 6-0 with his two-run shot to right in the fifth.

"I put the team in a hole early; they did a great job trying to dig out," Detwiler said. "It was just too much too early."

That gave Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel (5-1) a big early lead. He breezed through the first four innings, giving up only one hit, before the right knee soreness that's been bugging him popped up again. He struggled after that and wound up allowing four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

"I get to a certain point now where it's almost like I am pitching on one leg and transfer everything to the arm," Hammel said. "I got one out further than last time. It's not really pain, it's just soreness, and then I can't sit on it. The back leg is the most important part of the pitching delivery. Obviously, I've got to keep working on it."

The Nationals (23-17) tried to further chip away against the Orioles' bullpen, but Baltimore's relief pitchers combined to allow just one run on four hits in 3 2/3 innings. Luis Ayala, Troy Patton, Pedro Strop and Jim Johnson finished the job, but struggled at times to get through it as Washington rallied.

Johnson allowed the only run, a two-out solo homer from Ryan Zimmerman in the ninth. That cut the lead to 6-5 before Johnson struck out Adam LaRoche to finish his 15th save and 23rd straight going back to last year.

"They did some really good things there with a good batting order," Showalter said. "You knew they were going to make a run at us regardless, and our bullpen allowed it to stand up."

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