Nats Take Game One of "Battle of the Beltways" 4-2

Posted by Dave Nichols | Saturday, June 28, 2008 | , , , | 1 comments »

Washington, DC--The game last night between the Washington Nationals and visiting Baltimore Orioles had a little bit of everything that makes baseball great. There were extra base hits, stolen bases, good pitching and even a little intrigue. On top of it all, it was a tied game heading into the late innings, where the Nationals were able to scrape two runs together in the seventh inning, then hold on to defeat the Orioles 4-2, before 35,830 bi-partisan fans, one of the largest crowds all season.

In that fateful seventh, with Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera still on the mound, Willie Harris led off the inning with a walk, Cabrera's third and last of the night. Kory Casto then pinch-hit for relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan, and drilled a double to left filed that scooted by outfielder Jay Payton, allowing the fleet Harris to score all the way from first base. "Coming off the bench, it's tough. It's something I've never really done," Casto said. "It's your one shot and you've got to make it count."

Elijah Dukes, looking more and more every day like the run-producing force the Nationals hoped he would be when they traded for the troubled slugger, promptly delivered Casto on a single to center field and the Nationals took a precarious two-run lead into the final frames.

The Orioles would get runners on in each of the last two innings, and things looked particularly dicey in the ninth against closer Jon Rauch. Brian Roberts led off for the O's with a double and Nick Markakis followed with a walk. But Rauch got Melvin Mora to ground into a 6-4-3 double play, then Kevin Millar to fly out to center, and Rauch had secured the victory and his 16th save of the season.
Washington starter Odalis Perez, fresh off the 15-day disabled list, was on a pitch count for his first start back and fought through four innings without his best stuff, but hung tough while he was in there. He allowed no runs on three hits and three walks, striking out three. Steven Shell, the man who directly replaced Perez on the mound was not as sharp, as he surrendered both Orioles runs.

In the fifth inning, Shell gave up a triple to the first batter he faced, Brian Roberts, who immediately scored on Markakis' ground out. In the sixth, Adam Jones led off with a single that left fielder Wily Mo Pena misplayed, giving Jones an extra base. Brandon Fahey then shot one past third base to score Jones easily. Joel Hanrahan came on for Shell and pitched one scoreless inning to get the win. He's now 4-2 on the year with a 4.38 ERA.

The Nats got their first runs off Cabrera in the bottom of the first inning. Cristian Guzman led off with a double to right center and scored on Lasting MiIlledge's single to center. The ball scooted underneath Adam Jones' glove on the still wet turf, and Jones went all the way to third. Newly appointed clean-up hitter Jesus Flores then dumped a single into right field which brought Milledge home safely.

Game Two in the "Battle of the Beltways" is Saturday night at 7:10 pm. The Nats' John Lannan (4-8, 3.34) hosts Garrett Olson (5-3, 5.01) for the Orioles.

NATS NOTES: The win raises the Nats record to 32-49, last in the NL East, eleven games behind slumping Philadelphia.

The Nats have won back-to-back games at home for the first time since May 4.


Photo (c) C.Nichols 2008

1 comments

  1. Anonymous // June 28, 2008 at 8:39 PM  

    Casto has been great in the clutch lately! can't wait to see Washington play him more.