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Lengthy rain delay dampens Andrew Cashner's return to Orioles starting rotation

WASHINGTON — Orioles right-hander Andrew Cashner returned from the 10-day disabled list Wednesday night and showed no sign of the back injury that forced him out of the starting rotation for one start.

He also showed no sign that his luck has changed.

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He pitched four shutout innings and allowed just three hits, but a heavy rain interrupted the game for 2 hours, 43 minutes, forcing him out of the game before he could pitch long enough to qualify for the decision in the Orioles’ 3-0 victory over the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.

“The back felt fine,’’ Cashner said. “I’ll see how it feels tomorrow, but I was really pleased by where I was at.”

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During the rain delay, he continued to warm up intermittently in hopes of coming back out to get through another inning or two, but after an interruption that was longer than the time of game, that didn’t make any sense.

“Every 30 minutes I was throwing off a mound downstairs inside,” Cashner said. “I was ready to go, but I think it just went too long.”

Manager Buck Showalter decried the rule that requires a starting pitcher to go five innings to get a decision.

“Cashner should get the win,’’ Showalter said. “Really, say a guy pitches four shutout innings and you get [single innings] of relief the rest of the way. Obviously, I thought [Miguel] Castro was key, too, but why do we have to give it to somebody else?”

It’s a fair question, but that rule isn't likely to change anytime soon, so Cashner just has to hope his luck does.

He has pitched well enough to give the Orioles a chance to win almost every time he has taken the mound. In his 14 starts this season, he has allowed more than four runs just twice and allowed three runs or fewer 10 times.

Mark Trumbo hit a two-run homer and Andrew Cashner and Co. held the Washington Nationals to five hits in a rain-delayed 3-0 road win.

He has won just once since April 5.

That’s what happens when your offense scores three runs or fewer in 13 of those 14 starts and you entered the game with the dubious distinction of owning the lowest run support average in all of baseball (2.49). But when it comes to getting adequate run support on this team, things are tough all over.

The Orioles are averaging only 3.6 runs per game overall and entered the second game of their interleague series against the Nats still ranked last among the 30 major league teams with 256 runs in 71 games.

Cashner actually stayed in the game after the rain delay just long enough to strike out and save Showalter a pinch hitter with so much more baseball to play.

The Orioles padded the lead a bit and the bullpen succeeded where it could not the night before, shutting down the Nats the rest of the way to complete the team’s fourth shutout of the season.

Castro got the victory for two scoreless innings of middle relief. Zach Britton struck out two in 1 1/3 scoreless innings, leaving after getting Bryce Harper to line out to first base to open the bottom of the ninth. Brad Brach then allowed two straight singles and loaded the bases after walking pinch hitter Brian Goodwin, but struck out former Oriole Mark Reynolds looking to end the game.

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