BALTIMORE – The atmosphere was lively, the crowd most definitely into the game. It was the first of four in the annual series between the Orioles and the Nationals.
Sure, it might be late in the season for the teams to be meeting. The Orioles surely would prefer to concentrate on the AL East race.
But, the series is popular with fans, and there were many Nats fans at Oriole Park, and will certainly be thousands of Orioles fans at Nationals Park on Wednesday and Thursday.
After losing five of their first six games on the homestand, the Orioles beat the Nationals 4-3 before 31,660 on Monday night.
Manager Buck Showalter felt the crowd.
"It was an energy that was needed, You always lean on your fans sometime when you come off a long tough trip in August. It's a pick me up,” Showalter said.
Dylan Bundy allowed two runs on three hits in six innings. He walked four and hit a batter.
Bundy had a rough start his last time out when Boston touched him for five runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings last Wednesday.
Showalter was asked if he felt vindicated in limiting Bundy to the bullpen in the first half of the season.
“Why? It’s just a tribute to Dylan and the people who have worked with him. And most of all, Dylan. Good pitchers are easy to handle. Just get out of their way. But it’s very easy to let emotions get away from you. There are times to think with your heart as much as your head. It was tempting to run him back out there for the seventh inning, but trying to keep the end game here in mind,” Showalter said.
Trea Turner’s leadoff walk in the first led to a run. Turner stole second and scored on Daniel Murphy’s single.
Anthony Rendon’s 16th home run to start the fourth was the last hit Bundy (7-4) allowed.
It was the first time the Nationals had seen Bundy, and they were impressed with they saw.
“Scientists say a ball can’t rise, but those balls were rising. And then he probably has one of the best curveballs we’ve seen. We heard he had great stuff. It was just a matter of his command,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said.
The Orioles (68-56) had expected to see Stephen Strasburg pitch for the first time in Baltimore, but when he landed on the disabled list with a sore elbow Monday morning, the Nationals hastily promoted A.J. Cole.
Cole (0-1) didn’t allow a hit until Jonathan Schoop lead off the third with his 20th home run of the year. Schoop becomes the team’s fifth 20 home run hitter of 2016 joining Mark Trumbo, Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Adam Jones.
Pedro Alvarez’s next home run will be his 20th, and the Orioles will have six 20 homer guys for the first time since 1996.
Machado began the fourth with a double. He scored on Davis’ double, and Trumbo homered for a 4-2 lead.
It was Trumbo’s 38th home run, which leads the major leagues.
“I think at times maybe the ballpark helped a little bit. These were some of the things that I wanted to do in the offseason. I wanted to drive the ball in the air a little bit more this year. That was kind of the mindset going into it and all the offseason work was kind of geared towards that. You don’t know if it’s going to materialize or not, but you hope it has and so far so good,” Trumbo said.
Mychal Givens relieved Bundy for the seventh, and he gave up a leadoff home run to Danny Espinosa.
Murphy doubled off Donnie Hart leading off the eighth, but was caught off second when Bryce Harper bounced back to the mound.
“In that situation I kind of told myself check him. And sure enough I got the ball back to me and I turned around and he had his head down going to third, so it just so happened we were able to get him.You always want to be in situations like that. I think as a competitor that’s what you want, that’s what you look for and that’s my spot. That’s my job. If I’m going to keep my job, I’ve got to get those guys out,” Hart said.
Harper is now a lifetime .175 hitter against the Orioles.
Brad Brach walked Rendon with two outs, and struck out Ryan Zimmerman.
The Nationals (73-51) were retired in order in the ninth by Zach Britton, who recorded his 38th consecutive save.
NOTES: The Orioles are 34-23 against the Nationals since the franchise relocated from Montreal to Washington. … Reynaldo Lopez (2-1, 4.37) faces Kevin Gausman (4-10, 4.11) on Tuesday night.
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