By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) — The Baltimore Orioles managed to avoid the Washington Nationals’ Tanner Roark last month after his scheduled start was pushed back due to weather.
The forecast, however, looks good for Monday night.
Roark tries to win a career-best fifth consecutive outing as these beltway rivals make up a postponement in the nation’s capital.
The Nationals dropped two of three to the Orioles from July 7-10. Roark (11-6, 2.74 ERA) was slated to pitch in that home-and-home series but was skipped after the clubs were rained out July 8.
Baltimore probably isn’t looking forward to its first matchup with Roark, who has thrown seven innings of one-run ball in each of his last four starts. The right-hander allowed three hits and struck out seven in Wednesday’s 4-3 win at Miami, giving him an 8-2 mark and 2.20 ERA in his last 10 starts.
“Tanner continues to pitch well for us,” manager Matt Williams told MLB’s official website. “He pitched pretty well, he kept us in the game.”
No rain is predicted for Monday in Washington.
The NL East-leading Nationals (60-49) had dropped four of five before posting back-to-back wins over Philadelphia. Denard Span stayed hot with two more hits and an RBI as the Phillies won 4-0 on Sunday to split a four-game set.
Span has recorded at least one hit in 15 of his last 17, batting .433 with 14 runs and eight stolen bases. He’s reached safely in 29 straight.
The AL East-leading Orioles (62-48) have won seven of 10 after taking two of three from Seattle. Nick Markakis hit a leadoff home run in Sunday’s 1-0 victory and collected three of his team’s five hits.
Baltimore had never won a game in which the lone run came on a leadoff homer. Each of the Orioles’ last six victories have been decided by one run.
“As many times as we come here after a game knowing the offense picked up the pitching, it’s kind of evened out,” said manager Buck Showalter, whose team has batted .189 over a 14-game stretch. “If we can get both going – as every team tries to do – it would be a little more fun.”
Kevin Gausman (5-3, 3.70) takes the mound for Baltimore looking to build on Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels. The right-hander retired the first 14 batters he faced and gave up three runs and three hits over seven innings.
Gausman was hit hard in his only start against the Nationals, a 9-3 road loss May 28, 2013. He allowed seven runs and a career-high three homers over 4 1-3 innings in what was his second big league appearance.
Gausman could get his first look at Bryce Harper, who figures to be back in the starting lineup after coming on as a defensive replacement Sunday. Harper is hitting .212 in nine games against the Orioles.
The slumping Nelson Cruz should return for Baltimore after getting a day to clear his head. Cruz is among the major league leaders with 75 RBIs, but he has two and has batted .110 over his last 20 games.
“They’re not getting him out,” Showalter said. “He’s getting himself out, mostly.”
Baltimore has won 15 of 22 against the Nationals and five of its last seven in Washington.
Updated August 3, 2014
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