WASHINGTON---Thrust in the starting rotation because Chris Tillman is on the disabled list, Ubaldo Jimenez pitched a creditable game on Thursday night.
Jimenez’s issue was that Max Scherzer was nearly perfect.
The Orioles had just two hits in eight innings against Scherzer as the Washington Nationals beat the Orioles 4-0 before a sellout crowd of 39,722 at Nationals Park.
After winning the first three games against the Nationals (74-53), the Orioles (70-57) were shut down completely by the great Scherzer, who struck out 10 in his eight innings without walking a batter. He threw 95 pitches.
Jimenez allowed one run on five hits, striking out four without walking a batter in six innings.
“I think everybody was pulling for him. He’s such a good young man, just needed it. I almost took him out after the fifth, but he said he felt good and wanted to go there. but we needed those six innings. We’re still having trouble pitching that last inning. It’s been a challenge for us, but Ubaldo kept us in the game. There’s a game there to be won if we could keep that thing at 1-0,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Logan Ondrusek allowed three runs in the eighth.
Scherzer (14-7) quickly retired the first nine Orioles, striking out six of them before Adam Jones doubled to left, leading off the fourth. That was the Orioles’ only baserunner.
After setting down the next 12, Mark Trumbo singled to lead off the eighth.
Jayson Werth led off the fourth with a long home run to center field off JImenez and the Nationals had a 1-0 lead.
Jimenez won the plaudits of his manager and teammates.
“I want to talk about how Ubaldo threw the ball. He went out there and I’m pretty sure many people didn’t expect him to do what he did. Six innings. One pitch I know he wants to have back, but he threw the hell out of the ball,” Jones said.
Jones was pinch hit for in the ninth inning, and Showalter said he was taken out as a precaution.
“He had a cramp in the hamstring in one leg. Felt it earlier in the game, and I just didn’t like the description. I talked to him when he came off the field in the bottom of the 8th. It’s just not worth taking a chance, because we really don't have much depth at that position either,” Showalter said.
Jones dismissed questions about his injury as he generally does when he’s hurt. “I’m good, so it doesn’t matter,” Jones said. He did say he planned on playing Friday.
Jimenez’s turn will come up against Toronto on Tuesday. This year, Jimenez has allowed 12 runs on 15 hits in 7 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays.
“I haven’t even gotten that far on. I don’t know what else he has to do,” Showalter said. “We’ll step back and take a look at it and continue to try to put our best foot forward. He certainly did tonight.”
Jimenez was pleased with how well he pitched in his first start since July 28 against the Twins.
“That’s everything I’ve done in my career, start. I know why I was put in the bullpen, but it’s very good to have this one and the one in Minnesota too. Hopefully, I get some more, but wherever they put me, I’m going to try to do the best I can to be there for the team,” Jimenez said.
He enjoyed the matchup with one of the game’s best.
“As a starting pitcher, that’s one of the games that you dream of, because it gets you going. You have to bring your A-game, because that guy’s tough to hit,” Jimenez said.
The Orioles were aggressive against Scherzer, but it didn’t work
“I guess so, but that didn’t rattle him. He kept back. He had a plan. He executed it. He was using all his pitches tonight. He was very difficult to face, and he did a good job,” Steve Pearce said.
The game got away in the eighth when Ondrusek pitched his second inning. Mike Wright came on after the first three batters of the inning got on.
Trea Turner, who was 10-for-13 in the last three games of the series, singled to begin the inning. Werth singled, and Daniel Murphy doubled down the right field line to score Turner. Bryce Harper’s double scored two more for a 4-0 lead.
Showalter said that the team might have to make one or two moves because neither Ondrusek nor Wright would be available on Friday.
One of the possible additions, T.J. McFarland pitched a perfect inning for Bowie.
NOTE: The Orioles open a three-game series at Yankee Stadium on Friday. Yovani Gallardo (4-5, 5.08) faces Luis Cessa (3-0, 4.01).
RELATED: ORIOLES MAKING POSTSEASON PLANS