BALTIMORE — Juan Soto dropped to the ground, clutching his leg in pain. One minute, things looked dim. The next, Soto was trotting around the bases.
Soto’s 443-foot home run two pitches after grounding a foul ball into his shin helped the Nationals secure an 8-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday at Camden Yards.
Anthony Rendon hit RBI doubles in the third and seventh innings and starter Austin Voth got his first win of 2019 for the Nationals (50-43).
The Nationals didn’t get off to a strong start, but they did enough to beat the worst team in baseball, the Orioles (28-66). It was the first “Beltway Series” meeting of the year, with the final two on tap Aug. 27-28 at Nationals Park.
Manager Dave Martinez praised his players’ “quality at-bats” that came late in the game. Six of Washington’s eight runs came in the final four innings.
“Once again Anthony is Anthony, drives in some big runs for us and gets us going, and everybody seemed like the at-bats got better as the game went along,” Martinez said.
Both teams got on the board with solo home runs in the second inning. Matt Adams blasted a pitch over the right field wall and onto Eutaw Street, not quite far enough to hit the B&O Warehouse. But Hanser Alberto countered for the Orioles with a solo shot to left-center in the bottom of the inning.
Anthony Rendon put Washington back ahead in the third with an RBI double that brought in Trea Turner. Neither team scored again until Soto’s eventful at-bat in the sixth, going from an injury scare that brought Martinez onto the field to check on him to his 17th of the season in short order.
“For me, I just get mad,” Soto told reporters. “When I hit it, I was like, you hit me. It wasn’t me. It was the pitcher. I just get mad, and I tried to hit the ball as hard as I can.”
Martinez said the foul ball got Soto at the top of his shin.
“Sure enough, he goes out and stays inside the ball and hits the ball a long way,” Martinez said.
The Orioles took starter Asher Wojciechowski out of the game one out later, but the Nationals tacked on another run before the sixth was over. Brian Dozier singled, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and then was given a free pass home because Baltimore pitcher Shawn Armstrong committed a balk.
The Nationals padded their lead with four runs across the seventh, eighth and ninth innings — Rendon’s second RBI double of the night, followed by RBI singles from Victor Robles, Soto and Adams.
Voth pitched six innings with one earned run, four hits and four strikeouts after overcoming a shaky start. In the first inning he loaded the bases with Baltimore’s second, third and fourth batters on two hit batters and a four-pitch walk. But he found his way out of the jam without allowing a run, and Alberto’s homer was the only blemish on his night.
“I definitely wasn’t comfortable in that first inning,” Voth said. “The ball kept kinda slipping out of my hand and hit two guys and didn’t have my command. But just had to bear down and had to go one pitch at a time. Felt like I just slowed my mechanics down. I felt like I was going a million miles (an hour). Just too fast, so I just had to slow things down, that’s for sure.”
The Nationals and Orioles will conclude their two-game set Wednesday. Erick Fedde will come up from the minors to start for Washington as the rotation tries to manage without Max Scherzer, who’s still on the 10-day injured list.
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