GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Thanks to a rainout last month, the final chapter of this year's Battle of the Beltways was bumped to tonight, a 1-game makeup to decide whether this would end up a 4-game split or a 3-1 series victory for the Orioles. By night's end, this series had turned as orange as the masses of Baltimore fans who invaded Nationals Park.
What began as a pitchers' duel, with Tanner Roark slightly outperforming Kevin Gausman, turned ugly late. The Orioles blasted Roark and relievers Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen for five runs on 10 hits in the seventh and eighth innings alone, taking a commanding lead in the process and making the Nationals pay for their earlier failure to take down Gausman when they had the chance.
So, the Battle of the Beltways goes to the Orioles, and the Nationals must now regroup against the Mets to close out their homestand before a huge weekend series in Atlanta, which now trails in the NL East by 3 games.
HITTING LOWLIGHT: The Nationals lineup had a chance to do to Gausman what the Orioles lineup did to Roark and the bullpen late. The Nats put 10 men on base in the game's first six innings, but managed to push only three of them across the plate. Perhaps their best chance at a big inning came in the fourth, when Bryce Harper drew a leadoff walk and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a single to right. Up stepped Wilson Ramos, who homered in his previous at-bat, with a chance to break things open. But Ramos wound up rapping a tailor-made double-play grounder to short. Harper did score, giving the Nationals a 3-1 lead for the moment, but the double play killed any chance of a big rally and ultimately came back to haunt this team.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: For six innings, Roark pitched much as we have come to expect him to pitch. He didn't necessarily blow anybody away, but he got the job done, allowing only solo homers to Caleb Joseph and Nick Markakis. And with his pitch count at 84, he earned the right to take the mound for the seventh with the Nationals leading 3-2. But things quickly fell apart for the right-hander in the seventh. He allowed back-to-back doubles to J.J. Hardy and Ryan Flaherty to begin the inning and tie the game, then later allowed an RBI single to pinch-hitter Delmon Young, leaving the Nationals trailing for the first time all night. Matt Williams came to get the ball from Roark, who certainly would have liked to close out his first calendar year in the big leagues on a better note. Even so, Roark in his first 365 days as a major leaguer still owns an 18-8 record and 2.54 ERA.
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STREAK WATCH: Denard Span didn't provide much drama tonight in his quest to reach base. He doubled to left-center in the bottom of the third, extending his streak to an even 30 games. That's now tied for the second-longest streak in Nationals history (2005-present). Alfonso Soriano also did it in 2006. Ryan Zimmerman holds the club record with a 43-game streak in 2009.
KEY STAT: The 4-game Battle of the Beltways series drew a total of 143,299 fans. Average attendance at Nationals Park was 38,654. Average attendance at Camden Yards was 32,996.
UP NEXT: The Mets come to town for a 3-game series to wrap up the homestand. It'll be Gio Gonzalez against Zack Wheeler in Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. opener.