video thumbnail

Zimmerman singles home a run in the third

BALTIMORE -- After a nearly month-long absence from the Nationals' starting rotation, Ross Detwiler returned with an efficient scoreless outing Sunday afternoon. The Nats' bullpen, however, couldn't follow suit in a 2-1 loss to the Orioles at Oriole Park.

Riding a six-inning scoreless streak, Sean Burnett entered the game in the eighth after Detwiler lasted five frames and Craig Stammen pitched the next two. Following a leadoff single from Adam Jones, Burnett blew the Nats' 1-0 lead when Matt Wieters sent a 1-1 fastball over the middle of the plate deep over the left-center-field wall for his 10th home run of the season. Entering the game, Burnett had allowed just one homer in his last 50 appearances.

"We're facing big league hitters night in and night out," Burnett said. "We're also big league pitchers -- we're supposed to go do our job and get out of that. I didn't do my job."

The Nats briefly showed signs of life in the ninth inning once Ian Desmond walked with one out. But the game ended five pitches later on a double play when Danny Espinosa struck out swinging and Desmond was thrown out attempting to steal second by Wieters.

Detwiler pitched five scoreless innings, allowing one run on four hits with five strikeouts and two walks in his first start since reclaiming the No. 5 spot in the rotation from Chien-Ming Wang. Wang warmed in the bullpen during the fourth inning for the first time as a reliever, though he never came into the game.

"To tell you the truth, the fifth starter needs to just eat up innings," Detwiler said. "Only going five? That's not the way to do it."

The only run support Detwiler received came in the third inning, when Jhonatan Solano led off with a double to right field. Three batters later, he scored on a sharp single to left by Ryan Zimmerman. The rubber match of the series was Zimmerman's best game in two weeks, considering the veteran third baseman has been dealing with lingering right shoulder soreness while seeing his batting average dip to .223.

About one hour before the game, Zimmerman had a cortisone injection in the shoulder, which he said had him feeling better than any moment in recent memory.

"It was good," Zimmerman said. "Everyone in this game plays banged up; there's nobody in any locker room that's close to 100 percent, I would say. It's nice to be able to have something like that to kind of get you over the hump."

Detwiler faced only one batter above the minimum through three innings before the Orioles applied pressure in the fourth. J.J. Hardy singled to lead off the inning, and Wieters followed with another two batters later, advancing Hardy to second. After striking out Mark Reynolds, Detwiler walked Steve Pearce on four pitches. Detwiler was visited at the mound by pitching coach Steve McCatty before getting Ronny Paulino to fly out to right to end the inning.

"I thought [Detwiler] was real aggressive going after them," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He did attack the hitters, and I thought he was around the strike zone all the time. Sometimes he rushed a little bit, but by and large, he was in a good groove."

Bryce Harper, playing in his 50th career game, had his first multihit outing since June 17 against the Yankees. Harper singled in the first and then stretched a dribbler up the middle in the sixth into a double, drawing significant applause from an Oriole Park crowd containing a sizable portion of Nationals fans. He also grounded into the first double play of his career in the third inning.

Jake Arrieta started for the Orioles, going six innings while allowing one run on five hits with five strikeouts and a walk. Baltimore's bullpen was nearly perfect, allowing just one hit over three innings of scoreless work.

Though Burnett ultimately spoiled solid efforts from both Detwiler and Stammen, Johnson expressed no concern over the blown save.

"I can't take offense with [Burnett], he's been almost perfect every time out," Johnson said. "He just made one bad pitch, and that's going to happen in this ballpark."

MLB.com Comments