Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Battle of the Beltways resumes tonight at Nationals Park.
Jason Marquis returns to the mound tonight after completing his five-game MLB suspension. He's in search of his team-leading eighth victory, and he'll be opposed by rookie left-hander Zach Britton, making his first career appearance against the Nats.
The hottest lineup in baseball -- 25 runs scored in three days -- is pretty much intact. Only the usual tweakings for a left-handed starter, which means Ian Desmond and Roger Bernadina swap spots and Jerry Hairston starts in left field over Laynce Nix.
Plenty of updates to come...
ORIOLES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN, MASN2
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), WTEM (980 AM), XM 187
Weather: Chance of storms, 82 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to RF
STARTING LINEUPS6:55 p.m. -- Weather update: It's begun raining here, and there's the threat of more significant rain coming. So the tarp is on the field and this game will officially begin in a delay.
RF Jayson Werth
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
C Wilson Ramos
LF Jerry Hairston
P Jason Marquis
CF Roger Bernadina
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
LF Luke Scott
1B Derrek Lee
3B Mark Reynolds
2B Robert Andino
P Zach Britton
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Rainbow over the Nationals Park right field stands.
7:46 p.m. -- I think it's safe to say John Wall chose the right sport. The Wizards rookie just threw out the ceremonial first pitch and came nowhere close to throwing it the full 60 feet, 6 inches. Credit to Drew Storen for snagging it on a hop and making it look better than it was.
8:01 p.m. -- And we are finally underway with a strike from Jason Marquis to J.J. Hardy. Officially a 56-minute rain delay. The one advantage: The stadium is actually near-full at first pitch for a change. Really big crowd on hand for this one, gotta be well north of 30,000.
8:06 p.m. -- Top of the first could have been dicey for Marquis, but he narrowly averted disaster after Nick Markakis singled and Adam Jones hit a sharp chopper to short that ate up Ian Desmond. It could have been Desmond's first error since May 4 but the official scorer gave Jones a base hit, citing the bad hop. Call probably could have gone either way. Anyways, it didn't come back to haunt Marquis, because he got Matt Wieters to fly out to right and Luke Scott to ground out to second.
8:24 p.m. -- Marquis again pitches his way out of trouble in the second. Back-to-back singles by Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds, but Marquis got Robert Andino to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. Four hits allowed in two innings, but no runs so far.
8:36 p.m. -- Ryan Zimmerman has been working on a new throwing motion, and, well ... he hasn't exactly mastered it yet. Just one-hopped a throw to first, with Michael Morse making a nice scoop. Zim just looks really, really awkward and uncomfortable right now.
8:46 p.m. -- Pretty impressive stuff so far from Zach Britton, who I'd never watched in person before. He made Bernadina look downright silly on a strikeout to open the bottom of the third. Jerry Hairston has the lone base hit of the night so far, a second-inning double down the left-field line. Otherwise, Britton has been fantastic. Scoreless after three.
8:55 p.m. -- Wilson Ramos is a really good young catcher, and he's only going to get better. But he has GOT to work on receiving throws from the outfield. The Orioles have taken a 2-0 lead in the fourth because Ramos was unable to hang onto Jerry Hairston's throw from left field that would have nailed Derrek Lee and ended the inning scoreless. Ramos, though, never got a hold of it off the hop, and this wasn't the first time he's done this. That not only allowed Lee to score but prolonged the inning for Britton to record his first career hit (an RBI double). Nats now trail 2-0 in the middle of the fourth.
9:13 p.m. -- The bad: Jason Marquis has surrendered 10 base hits through five innings. The good: Somehow, he's only allowed those two runs to score. Another nifty double play from Espinosa and Desmond in the top of the fifth helped out. The Nats have now turned 62 double plays this season, fourth-most in the NL.
9:23 p.m. -- And just like that, the Nats have taken the lead. Singles from Ramos, Hairston and Desmond, and an RBI groundout from Bernadina in the bottom of the fifth. But the key to it all was Mark Reynolds' throwing error on Marquis' sac bunt attempt. The third baseman (and former UVA teammate of Zimmerman) was way wild with his throw after scooping up Marquis' bunt. That allowed one run to score and set up the rest of the inning. The Nats will take it. They now lead 3-2 after five.
9:31 p.m. -- Make it 4-2 after Zimmerman smokes an RBI single up the middle to score Desmond (who had stolen second). Zim had been 0-for-2 tonight and 3-for-17 since coming off the DL, but he had hit two balls hard to center field earlier in this game, and you just had the sense he was going to break through soon. Turns out he did.
9:43 p.m. -- Marquis puts two of the first three batters he faces in the sixth on, and with Vladimir Guerrero pinch-hitting for Britton, Riggleman makes his move. Marquis is done, and here comes Todd Coffey bursting out of the bullpen! Tonight's sprint time: 12.75 seconds.
9:49 p.m. -- And this game is tied again after Coffey allows both inherited runners to score. Guerrero singles in one, Hardy sac flies in the other. It's 4-4, and Marquis' final line is: 5.1 ip, 12 h, 4 er, 0 bb, 3 k.
10:08 p.m. -- So, how many of you out there predicted the Nats would re-take the lead on a hit-and-run double from Hairston, scoring Ramos all the way from first? And then, that Sean Burnett would be allowed to hit for himself and draw a four-pitch walk? Liars!
10:16 p.m. -- And now Werth adds to the lead with a clutch RBI single to left-center. Even more impressive was Burnett going first-to-third and finishing with a nice pop-up slide! And then Sean scores on Desmond's sac fly. It's now 7-4 in the bottom of the sixth, and there's still a LONG way to go before this one's over.
10:30 p.m. -- The Orioles have now amassed 16 hits over seven innings, at least one in every frame. Adam Jones and Derrek Lee each have already recorded four hits. Yet the Nats somehow hold a 7-4 lead. They've simply made pitches when they needed to, including Henry Rodriguez getting out of the seventh by striking out Reynolds and inducing a groundball from Andino.
10:56 p.m. -- One night after allowing a homer to Albert Pujols, Tyler Clippard gets back on track. Allowed a two-out single to Markakis (who becomes the third different Oriole with four hits tonight) but recorded a pair of strikeouts. Still 7-4 heading to the bottom of the eighth.
11:12 p.m. -- Roger Bernadina with the rare homer off a lefty (only the third of his career). Makes it 8-4 and erases the save opportunity. So Drew Storen (who had been warming up) takes a seat and Ryan Mattheus will now pitch the ninth.
11:21 p.m. -- That's it. Nats win again. Final score: 8-4. Winning streak at 7. They're now two games under .500 and tied with the Mets for third place in the NL East. It's the first time they've been in third place this late in the season since September 28, 2005.