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Garcia pitches O's past Nats

BALTIMORE - A night after the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals combined for eight home runs and 15 runs, Thursday's game had nothing of the sort.

It was the complete opposite, as it was a pitcher's duel from the start. But it was Orioles starter Freddy Garcia who outlasted Washington starter Dan Haren and pitched his team to victory.

Garcia threw eight shutout innings, guiding Baltimore to a 2-0 win before 30,655 at Camden Yards. The veteran right-hander delivered his best outing as an Oriole, as he surrendered just three hits, struck out six, and walked none.

"He had everything available to him," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He didn't elevate many balls, and when he did, he did it on purpose just to change the eye level and the release point."

The 36-year-old is just the second Baltimore starter to go six innings or more in the last eight games. Jason Hammel also went eight innings on Monday.

After giving up back-to-back singles to start the second, Garcia (2-2) retired the next 14 batters he faced. He finally gave up his third hit with two outs in the sixth, which was a long single by Roger Bernadina off the right-field wall.

But after that, Garcia retired the final seven batters he faced, as he set down 21 of the last 22 he faced. Until Thursday, Garcia had not gone more than 6 2-3 innings or given up less than two runs this season.

"They'd been hitting the ball real good the last couple days," Garcia said. "It's hot here in Baltimore and the ball flies, so you've got to keep it down."

Garcia did just that, utilizing his splitter as a strikeout pitch and pitching eight innings for the first time since Sept. 20, 2009. The right-hander, who made just his sixth start for Baltimore (30-24), impressed his teammates.

"He was making them chase his pitches," Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis said. "Being his teammate now, I think that's the best I've seen him throw."

Added third baseman Manny Machado: "In the past, he got behind a little bit. Today, he had his 'A' game on, got ahead and pitched a very great game."

Jim Johnson pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his 17th save, his second in as many nights. Haren (4-5) was the hard-luck loser for Washington (27-27). He gave up two runs over 7 1-3 innings.

After scoring nine runs and hitting four homers on Wednesday, the Orioles' offense was not as powerful. But Baltimore was able to plate a pair of runs, which ended up being enough.

Ryan Flaherty led off the bottom of the third with a single to right. Three batters later, Machado also singled.

Markakis then came up and laced a two-out RBI double to right.

Baltimore was able to get an insurance run in the eighth. With one out, Nate McLouth blooped a hit into shallow right field. But the Orioles leadoff hitter was running for a double the whole way, and was able to leg one out.

Machado then followed with an RBI double down the third-base line. McLouth was 3 for 4 at the top of the order.

Baltimore took three out of four from the Nationals. Markakis said it was a nice ending to both series against the Nationals.

"We hung in there, scored some runs, and came out with a big win," Markakis said. "Taking three out of four from anybody is fun, no matter who it is."

He added that Garcia is to thank for Thursday.

"You can't say enough about him. He was a bulldog out there," Markakis said. "He gave us eight innings and then Jim Johnson. That's how a baseball game is supposed to be played."

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