Though many of those in the announced crowd of 21,151 didn't reach their seats until well after Daniel Cabrera's first pitch, most made it in time to catch the second-inning excitement. Ryan Church hit a 96-mph fastball over the wall in left field to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead, but Melvin Mora answered in the bottom of the inning with a 390-foot shot of his own. Aubrey Huff and Jay Payton scored on Mora's blast, and the Orioles grabbed a 3-1 lead.
Hopefully Cabrera has a short memory, because last night's start was one to forget. The big right-hander had already given up home runs to Church and Ryan Zimmerman before Ryan Langerhans smoked a line drive off his left hamstring in the fourth inning. Cabrera stayed in the game, but walked shortstop Cristian Guzman and gave up a bases-clearing double to Felipe Lopez. In 4 2/3 innings, Cabrera gave up seven earned runs - his highest total this season.
Much has been made of the Orioles' inability to pitch with a lead, and the statistics of the bullpen attest to that. Last night, however, the Orioles' maligned relievers didn't allow a run. Cabrera departed in the fifth inning with the Orioles trailing 7-3, and four relievers combined to pitch 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, including Danys Baez and John Parrish. Both Parrish and Baez had struggled recently.
After last night's loss, the Orioles have dropped three consecutive games and are six games below .500, equaling this season's low point. Right-hander Steve Trachsel (5-4, 3.82) starts tonight for the Orioles. Last week, Trachsel bounced back from his worst performance of the season with a solid effort against Colorado, throwing six innings and allowing two runs. Washington counters with 24-year-old rookie Matt Chico (3-4, 4.86).