BALTIMORE — The Washington Nationals bullpen failed again Wednesday, this time against the worst team in baseball with an important series looming.
The Baltimore Orioles scored three runs in the seventh off reliever Wander Suero and came back for a 9-2 victory against the Nationals. Anthony Santander and Chris Davis, hitting just .178 at game time, had RBI hits and Rio Ruiz had a sacrifice fly in the winning rally to make it 4-2.
Trey Mancini of Baltimore added a two-run homer in the eighth off reliever Javy Guerra (four runs allowed) for a lead of 6-2 and lefty reliever Matt Grace also gave up a run later in the inning.
Washington (50-44) had won eight of the previous nine games against Baltimore (29-66), which scored eight runs against the Nats bullpen.
The start of the game was delayed one hour, 32 minutes by a thunderstorm and that meant an even later arrival in Atlanta on Thursday morning for the Nationals. Washington is 6 ½ games back of the first-place Braves and begins a series in Atlanta on Thursday night.
One bright spot Wednesday for the Nationals was right-handed starter Erick Fedde, who made his first pro outing since July 2 when he pitched for Triple-A Fresno. It was his first appearance in the majors since June 20, when he faced the Philadelphia Phillies.
Fedde, in his seventh MLB start of the year, allowed just one run in six innings and lowered his ERA to 3.50. He was in line for the victory before the implosion of the bullpen — the second loss in three games by the relievers.
The comeback wiped out a 2-1 lead by the Nationals.
Adam Eaton had a double to drive in Trea Turner, who had also doubled, to give the visitors a 2-1 lead in the fifth.
Baltimore had tied the game at 1-1 as Mancini hit a solo homer off Fedde in the fourth.
The Nationals grabbed a 1-0 advantage as Victor Robles singled, stole second and third on a scored on a sacrifice fly by Eaton in the third.
Aaron Brooks, the starting pitcher for the Orioles, allowed one run on two hits in 2 2/3 innings before Gabriel Ynoa took over in the third.
Washington is still 31-13 since May 24 for the best mark in the National League.
Justin Miller, another veteran reliever for Washington, has been on rehab with Double-A Harrisburg but did some exercises with the Nationals training staff on Wednesday in Baltimore. He threw back-to-back games earlier this week with Harrisburg.
“He is doing better. We just have to stretch him out,” manager Dave Martinez said.
Stephen Strasburg (11-4, 3.46) will start for Washington and Julio Teheran (5-6, 3.71) gets the nod for the Braves in the first of four games Thursday in Atlanta.
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