The Baltimore Orioles are back in Camden Yards and will begin another Beltway Series tonight with the Washington Nationals.
The Orioles will kick off a nine-game homestand and went 2-4 on their road trip against the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. Baltimore was swept in three games at New York and closed out the set with Wednesday's 4-3 setback.
Brian Matusz was dealt the loss and lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and seven hits with two strikeouts and a pair of walks.
"For me I like to be able to go deeper in games. That's what's frustrating today," Matusz said.
Wilson Betemit hit a two-run homer for the Orioles, who hadn't gone deep in their previous five games and have lost four of six games since a five-game winning streak. Adam Jones went 0-for-4, but has still hit in 31 of his last 39 games (48-for-154).
Baltimore, which is 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees for the AL East lead, will also host the LA Angels and Cleveland on the residency and is aiming for its 40th win of the season. The last time the Orioles reached 40 wins in June was 2008, when they were 40-36 by June 24, and they didn't hit the 40-win mark last year until July 23 (40-57).
Taking the mound for the O's tonight will be Jason Hammel. Hammel has some decent streaks going for him, as he is 3-0 in five home starts and 4-0 with a 3.99 earned run average in six career starts against the Nationals. Hammel defeated Washington on May 19 in a 6-5 victory despite surrendering four runs over 5 1/3 frames.
Hammel tossed a one-hitter his last time out in a 5-0 win at Atlanta on Saturday and struck out eight with a pair of walks. It was the right-hander's first career shutout and the effort lifted him to 7-2 in 13 starts this season to go along with a 2.87 ERA.
The Nationals got back on track following a four-game slide by taking the last two matchups of a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays in D.C.
In Thursday's 5-2 victory in the series finale at Nationals Park, Washington scored three runs combined in the sixth and seventh innings to take the lead for good. Danny Espinosa had two hits and stroked a two-run double in the sixth inning, while Roger Bernadina and Ian Desmond both knocked in runs.
"He hit the heck out of that ball," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said about Espinosa's double. "He's hitting the ball where it's pitched and he's hitting it awfully hard."
Gio Gonzalez allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks over six innings to earn the win for NL East-leading Washington, which won for the eighth time in 12 tries and sits 3 1/2 games ahead of the Mets.
Jordan Zimmermann looks to keep the ball rolling for the Nationals when he toes the rubber in tonight's opener with Baltimore. Zimmermann is 0-1 in his last four starts with three straight no-decisions, including a 5-3 loss to the Yankees in his previous start on Saturday. He lasted six innings against the Bronx Bombers and gave up three runs -- two earned -- and five hits.
Zimmermann, a right-hander, is hoping to move closer to the .500 mark and owns a 3-5 record in 13 starts with a 2.92 ERA this season. He is 3-2 in six road assignments and 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA in three career starts against the Orioles. Zimmermann hasn't prevailed since May 22 at Philadelphia.
Washington will commence a 10-game road trip Friday versus Baltimore, Colorado and Atlanta, and lost two of three contests to Baltimore from May 18-20. The Orioles have won eight of the last 12 encounters with the Nationals.