O's turn to Chen in finale with Nats, Strasburg

The Orioles' decision to sign Taiwanese hurler Wei-Yin Chen out of Japan this past offseason registered as the exact opposite on the excitement scale to when the Nationals grabbed highly-touted starter Stephen Strasburg with the top pick of the 2009 draft.

Chen, though, has been a big part of Baltimore's claim on first place in its division and he'll try to remain undefeated this afternoon as he closes out his team's three-game series with Washington and Strasburg, who is coming off his first loss of 2012.

The Orioles signed the left-handed Chen to a three-year deal and he has responded by going 4-0 with a 2.45 earned run average through seven starts. He hasn't given up more than three earned runs in any of those outings and picked up his second straight victory on Tuesday. Chen held the Yankees to a pair of runs on four hits over seven innings, outdueling CC Sabathia by keeping New York off the board until Curtis Granderson's seventh-inning two-run homer.

"Anytime you're facing a guy like [CC] Sabathia you have to get a well-pitched game from your starter to be in the ballgame," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "(Chen's) pitch count was way down early and we strung together some good at-bats."

The 26-year-old will face the National League for the first time, while Strasburg gets his first look at the Orioles after losing a decision to his hometown Padres on Tuesday.

Strasburg, a 23-year-old righty, lasted only four innings, his shortest outing since his previous loss on Sept. 23, and was charged with season highs of four runs -- three in the first -- and seven hits while falling to 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA.

In 25 career starts, Strasburg is 9-5 with a 2.44 ERA.

Baltimore is in position to pick up its first road sweep in this series since interleague play began and match its longest road winning streak since 1999 in the process.

The Orioles had lost five of seven in Washington before taking the first two games of this series, including Saturday's 6-5 victory that gave the O's a season high-tying fifth straight victory overall.

Adam Jones and Nick Markakis both hit two-run homers and Jones ended with three hits. Robert Andino added a two-run single and Jason Hammel allowed four runs over 5 1/3 innings, but escaped with the victory.

"Obviously an outstanding job by the 'pen tonight to fill in for me," Hammel said. "Once I can get this thing strong, I hope not to let them work anymore."

Baltimore improved its MLB-best road record to 15-5 and its nine-game winning streak as the guest is the franchise's longest since winning 10 straight from Aug. 29-Sept. 24, 1999.

The Orioles haven't won six in a row overall since Aug. 22-28 of last year.

Ryan Zimmerman had three hits and made it a one-run game with a solo homer in the ninth, but Washington still lost its third straight and fifth in its past seven.

Ross Detwiler gave up six runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out three over five frames to absorb the loss.

"The American League is notorious for jumping on some fastballs over the plate," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "You've got to use that secondary pitch. I think the first offspeed pitch he threw in the third inning, he (Jones) jumped all over it."

Washington's slide has dropped it 1 1/2 games behind Atlanta for first place in the NL East, while Baltimore holds a two-game edge over Tampa Bay for the top spot in the AL East.

Baltimore leads the all-time interleague series with Washington 21-17 as the clubs split six meetings a season ago.