WASHINGTON — The Orioles ran up a four-run lead on the Washington Nationals and appeared headed for their second straight victory Tuesday night, but nothing has been as it appears this season except each new way they have found to lose a game.
This time, they let the lead get away in a four-run fifth inning, then ran themselves out of an opportunity to take back control of the game in the sixth.
With the score newly tied and Nats reliever Justin Miller just in for starter Jefry Rodríguez, Jonathan Schoop led off the sixth with a long triple to right field and Danny Valencia followed with a walk.
That's when the fun started. Trey Mancini bounced a ball back to the mound and Schoop headed home on contact. He would be running for a long time, but didn’t get anywhere.
He was eventually tagged out in a lengthy rundown, which was not necessarily a base-running mistake, since the lead runner in that situation is supposed to draw the throw and prevent the double play.
The play left runners at first and second with one out, and the inning was far from over. Miller walked Caleb Joseph to load the bases and Caleb’s brother Corban came on to pinch hit in the pitcher’s spot.
Now for the temporary good news: Corban Joseph hit a soft ground ball to second that got there too slowly for the Nationals to turn an inning-ending double play, so Valencia scored from third to give the lead back to the Orioles.
They still had runners at first and third, but another tortured base-running play was just around the hot corner. With Jace Peterson, who homered in both Sunday and Tuesday’s games, at the plate, Corban Joseph and Mancini tried to pull off a double steal.
Nats catcher Spencer Kieboom fired the ball to second base and Mancini broke for the plate, but second baseman Wilmer Difo streaked in front of the bag to snag the throw and whipped the ball back to the plate to get Mancini.
So it goes. That run was not nearly enough. The Nats stormed back again with four runs in the seventh inning off relievers Tanner Scott and Mike Wright Jr. and the Orioles were right back in their discomfort zone.
After all those losses when three runs would have been enough, on this night seven weren’t.
“They did a lot better job cashing in their bases-loaded, nobody-out situation than we did,’’ manager Buck Showalter said. “What did we have seven runs on seven hits? There were a lot of good at-bats and walks, and we didn't get too overanxious against their first pitcher, but we just weren't able to stem the tide.”