Scott Olsen was not happy the way his day ended.  (Ian Koski/Nats Daily News)

If this is what interleague play is going to look like for the Washington Nationals, they probably should just take a pass.

The Nats bats were once again lethargic and the Baltimore Orioles, who entered the game with the majors worst record, walked away with a 5-3 victory before a bi-partisan crowd of 27,378 at Nationals Park.

It's the Nationals seventh loss in their last eight games, dropping them below .500 (21-22) for the first time since April 15 when they were 4-5.

This game was a tale of the two starting pitchers.

Nats starter Scott Olsen came in on string of effective performances; O's starter David Hernandez missed his last start with shoulder soreness.

So of course, Olsen struggled and left the game due to tightness in his pitching shoulder and Hernandez--though he walked five--allowed just one hit in five and one-third innings to earn his first win of the season and first in his last 11 starts.

It was obvious early that Olsen was not as sharp as he had been his previous few starts.

He gave up a two-run home run to Adam Jones (who left due to leg cramps later) in the second inning.  In the third he gave up two more runs and walked three in the inning.  After snaring the final out on a line drive back through the box, Olsen flipped the ball over his shoulder with his glove back toward the mound in plain disgust.

It would be the last batter he faced.

The Nats' medical staff later explained he left the game with "left shoulder tightness" and is day-to-day.

"He was not feeling good from the bullpen on," manager Jim Riggleman said after the game.  "He was trying to battle through and gave us everything he had. It was a gutty performance but we decided to get him out of there."

It's a tenuous diagnosis at best.  Olsen had surgery in the off-season on the shoulder, so the brain trust will be nervous until the swelling goes down and they can re-evaluate the problem, which they will take a couple days to do.

Hernandez, on the other hand, pitched better than he has all season.

The only hit he gave up was to Miguel Batista, the reliever that came in for Olsen.  He walked five, but was effectively wild enough to keep the struggling Nats offence off-balance all night.

The Nationals had their chances against the right-hander, but couldn't dent him.

In the fourth, Hernandez walked Cristian Guzman--no mean feat--and Adam Dunn with one out.  But Josh Willingham popped out to third and Ivan Rodriguez (1-for-4) flew out to right field.

In the sixth, Ryan Zimmerman and Dunn walked back-to-back, ending Hernandez' evening.  And though reliever Matt Albers immediately walked Willingham, all the Nats could manage was one run on Rodriguez' fielder's choice.

"[Hernandez] made the necessary pitches," Riggleman said.  "He got himself in trouble with some walks but he made some pitches to get out of trouble."

Ivan Rodriguez picked off the Orioles' Corey Patterson off
third base in the fourth inning. (Ian Koski/Nats Daily News)

Washington did push two across in the seventh.  Nyjer Morgan pinch-hit for Batista and sliced a double into the left field corner, and Willie Harris followed with a two-run shot off the facing of the second porch in right field.

(Ian Koski/Nats Daily News)

Unfortunately, the Orioles answered back with an isurance run in the eighth against Drew Storen.  Storen walked the leadoff hitter, backup catcher Craig Tatum (2-for-3, run, RBI), who scored on Corey Patterson's two-out RBI single.

(Ian Koski/Nats Daily News)

Batista, who came on for Olsen after the injury, was surprisingly solid.  He went four innings, allowing no runs on just two hits and two walks, striking out one.  Often maligned, he kept the Nationals in this one, but the offense couldn't keep their end of the bargain.

As the Nats await further medical news on Olsen, they find themselves solidly in the midst of a slump, and in danger of burning off much the goodwill accumulated through the first five weeks of the season.

A series loss--or sweep--to the bottomfeeding Orioles would be crushing to an organization that eight games ago thought they might have turned the corner to respectability.

If you had privately asked anyone in the Nats organization at the beginning of the season whether they would have been happy one game below .500 in the third weekend in May, I think to a man they would have taken it.

If you'd have asked them the same question two weeks ago, they'd have punched you.

Craig Stammen (1-2, 5.86) will try to turn the tide Saturday afternoon when he faces Brad Bergesen (3-3, 5.45) at 4:05 pm.

NATS NOTES:  Ian Desmond made a terrific play in the top of the ninth.  He ranged to his left on a grounder by Nick Markakis, dove and made the scoop on a tough hop, then got to his feet and fired a rocket to first to get Markakis by half a step.

Roger Bernadina went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

The Nats struck out four times, walked seven times and left eight men on base.  They were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position