BALTIMORE (AP) – After another awful pitching performance resulted in his team’s fourth straight loss, Baltimore manager Buck Showalter was asked whether the Orioles might make a roster move to improve their dreadful pitching.
“I think that’s very possible,” Showalter said after a 17-5 loss to the Washington Nationals on Friday night.
“At least one.”
Baltimore didn’t wait long. After the game, reliever Jason Berken was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. Berken had allowed six runs in an inning against Washington.
Then again, nobody the Orioles tossed at the Nationals had much success in what turned out to be a record-setting offensive night for Washington, which rebounded with a bang after coming off consecutive shutout losses.
“It’s real tough,” said Orioles starter Jake Arrieta, who had been 4-0 in his previous seven outings. “They swung the bats well. Got into some deep counts, though, and gave them some hittable pitches. They still got to put good swings on the ball in order to score that many runs. It’s not a great feeling.”
The Orioles have allowed 30 runs in their last two games, and 42 during the skid.
Danny Espinosa homered and drove in five runs, Jayson Werth hit two homers and had four RBIs, and the Nationals had their biggest offensive outing since moving to Washington from Montreal before the 2005 season.
“We’ve played good baseball. We just haven’t really had too many offensive nights,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. “So hopefully this will be the start of something.”
If so, Washington certainly got a lot of players involved in the outburst. Roger Bernadina, Wilson Ramos and Laynce Nix also homered to back a season-high, 19-hit attack. The six homers also set a Nationals record.
“Hopefully, we can build on this and keep it going,” Werth said. “Hopefully, this will break us out of what we’ve been in. We’re a lot better team than our record indicates. We have a great lineup and we’re going to wind up hitting.”
Henry Rodriguez (1-0) worked three scoreless innings for the victory.
Espinosa, who entered with a .194 batting average, hit a three-run homer in the second, an RBI triple in the fourth and singled in a run in the fifth. He finished 3 for 4 to raise his average to .209, but fell a double shy of becoming the third Nationals player to hit for the cycle.
“My timing was better,” Espinosa said. “Previously, I’ve been late to everything. It’s all timing. I’ve been working real hard at that. Tonight, I got my foot down and my swing was shorter.”
Asked why the slumping Nationals were able to batter Baltimore pitching, Showalter said: “They’re major league hitters who are capable of better, just like our guys are. I think it was probably a given they were going to hit better as the season progresses. It’s just unfortunate it was against us tonight.”
It didn’t take long for Washington to get to Arrieta (5-2), who walked the first two batters in the second inning before Espinosa homered to right-center off a 2-2 sinker.
The Orioles rallied with two outs in the third to tie the game. Nick Markakis dribbled an infield single, went to third on Vladimir Guerrero’s single to center and both runners scored when Matt Wieters’ drive to center glanced off the glove of a backpedaling Bernadina at the center-field warning track for a gift double. Luke Scott then singled home Wieters.
Washington went up 6-3 in the fourth. Ramos was hit by a pitch and Espinosa hit a tiebreaking triple off the center-field wall. Jerry Hairston Jr. then singled threw a drawn-in infield to score Espinosa.
Arrieta departed after loading the bases with one out on a walk to Nix, and Berken’s first pitch hit Werth in the left arm to force in a run.
Arrieta allowed six runs on six hits, walked three and struck out three.
Nationals starter Jason Marquis worked four innings, yielding five runs on eight hits. He walked three and struck out two.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)