BALTIMORE — While their offense struggles to perform without several injured stars, the Washington Nationals are going to have to rely heavily on their pitching to win.
Gio Gonzalez did his part Friday night against the Baltimore Orioles. The bullpen did not, leaving the Nationals to lament a 3-2 loss.
Gonzalez gave up one run, six hits and three walks in six-plus innings. The right-hander has yielded only two runs in his last 20 innings.
He was in position to get the win until Baltimore tied it in the eighth. After pinch-hitter Chris Parmelee reached against Casey Janssen on a broken-bat roller down the third base line, Matt Wieters greeted Matt Thornton with an RBI double to right-center.
Jonathan Schoop won it in the ninth with a two-out drive off Tanner Roark (4-4) into the seats in left field.
"I thought it was a good pitch. Maybe could've been a touch lower," Roark said.
Playing in his fifth game since coming off the 60-day disabled list with a sprained right knee, Schoop sent on a 2-2 slider just far enough to saddle the Nationals with their third straight loss.
"It's a small ballpark and he just got it out," Washington manager Matt Williams lamented.
Washington's injury-depleted offense took another hit before the game when leadoff hitter Denard Span went on the 15-day disabled list with back spasms. He joins Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon on the DL.
In spite of this, and although they have scored no more than three runs in seven of their last eight games, the Nationals are in first place in the NL East.
This loss, however, was tough to swallow.
"We just didn't swing the bats as good as we can tonight," Tyler Moore said. "Pitching was great. It's just frustrating. You just want to see us swing the bats a little better."
Zach Britton (1-0) pitched a perfect ninth for Baltimore.
The interleague matchup between clubs located 40 miles apart on I-295 drew a sellout crowd of 46,289, the largest of the season at Camden Yards.
Adam Jones opened the scoring by hitting the first pitch in the Baltimore fourth into the seats in left. Later in the inning, J.J. Hardy grounded out for the second time with two outs and two runners on.
Limited to an infield single over the first four innings by Chris Tillman, the Nationals used a five-hit fifth to go up 2-1. Moore had a two-out RBI double and scored on a single by Michael Taylor.
One inning later, Tillman ended his outing by striking out Jose Lobaton with two outs and runners on the corners.
"We had some opportunities with guys out there, but still we're in the game," Williams said. "One swing of the bat either way can make the difference. Tonight it was for them."
The three walks by Gonzalez ended a run of 20 straight games in which Washington issued two walks or fewer, the second-longest such streak since 1900.
Nationals: Lobaton went 0 for 4, grounding into two double plays. He came to the plate with five runners on base, including three in scoring position, but failed to advance any.
Orioles: Steve Pearce was 0 for 3, striking out twice and grounding into a double play before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the eighth.
Nationals: Williams said an MRI on Span showed no structural damage, adding, "Hopefully in 15 days he'll be back."
Orioles: RHP Wesley Wright, who's on the 60-day DL with shoulder inflammation, pitched 1 1-3 innings of scoreless relief Thursday for Triple-A Norfolk.
Nationals: RHP Jordan Zimmermann, whose wife gave birth to a girl on Friday, is expected to be activated from the paternity list to start Saturday night.
Orioles: RHP Miguel Gonzalez vies for his team-high eighth victory in his first career start against Washington.