WASHINGTON ——There have been plenty of times this season when it would have been easy to sum up another Orioles loss by looking at just one play or one statistic. But not Friday night, not when there was so much bad baseball to choose from, not when the Orioles all but gift-wrapped the Nationals their seventh straight win and presented it to them with a tidy bow.
The Orioles' latest eyesore of a performance -- this one resulting in a 8-4 loss in front of an announced 35,562 at Nationals Park -- featured another critical error by third baseman Mark Reynolds, whose errant throw led to the Nationals' four-run fifth inning off rookie Zach Britton, who had seemingly been in complete control.
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And not to be outdone in terms of futility, the Orioles' offense went just 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position, stranded 12 base runners and managed just the four runs despite collecting 18 hits. It's the first time since 2003 the Orioles have had that many hits while scoring four runs or less.
Derrek Lee tied a career high with five hits and Nick Markakis and Adam Jones had four each, but between them, they scored one total run and didn't drive in any, which was obviously a reflection of the performance by the rest of the lineup.
"We need to play better," said Wieters, who stranded eight base runners and allowed three steals. "Spring training is over. We've been playing for a while. We keep making the same mistakes. We have to start getting some runs and playing better defense."
The Orioles (31-36) lost for the fifth time in six games and are now 1-3 on this road trip. They've also dropped nine of their last 11 games away from Camden Yards.
"I'll take 18 hits. Usually when you get 18 hits, you probably get 10 to 12 runs," Jones said. "We'll come out tomorrow swinging the bats and let's get 18 more. But 18 with 10 runs."
After the game, which was delayed by 56 minutes by a storm that hit the area about 10 minutes before the first pitch, the Orioles optioned second baseman Ryan Adams to Triple-A Norfolk along with designating Accardo for assignment. To take their place, they recalled Brad Bergesen from Triple-A Norfolk and selected the contract of infielder Blake Davis.
Now, all they need is to get a few clutch hits and make a few timely pitches. Making all the routine defensive plays wouldn't hurt either.
"Those things are correctable in a lot of ways," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said when asked about the litany of mistakes and missed opportunities that the Orioles have just suffered through.
After squandering several early opportunities, the Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth, thanks largely to Britton, who retired 12 of the first 14 hitters that he faced, and also connected for an RBI double in his second big league at-bat. But Britton, with the help of Reynolds' inexcusable error, came apart in the bottom of the fifth.
"It's disappointing," said Britton, who surrendered four runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks over five innings. "I felt I had really good stuff, some of the best stuff I had all year and I kind of let it get away from me."
With men on first and third and no outs, Nationals starter Jason Marquis dropped down a bunt. Reynolds fielded it cleanly, but gave an extra long look to make sure Wilson Ramos would hold up at third. He then fired an errant throw down the right-field line, allowing Washington's first run to score. It was Reynolds' 15th error of the season, the major league lead.
Four of the next five Nationals to bat either drove in a run or reached base as they turned a two-run deficit into a two-run lead.
"We had plenty of opportunities to not make that matter," Showalter said of Reynolds' error. "Hanging something around one play in a game like that, I think it's just not something I'm going to do anyway."
The Orioles answered with two runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game. A single by Lee and a double by Robert Andino ended Marquis' night with the starter allowing 12 hits over just 5 1/3 innings.
Nationals reliever Todd Coffey sprinted in from the bullpen and he was greeted by Vladimir Guerrero's pinch-hit RBI single and J.J. Hardy's game-tying sacrifice fly. But the inning ended with Wieters grounding out on Burnett's first pitch and leaving the bases loaded.
"It's disappointing," Wieters said. "I left a small army out there on the bases tonight. The biggest thing is we had chances to break the game open and just weren't able to come through and extend the lead. Give them credit, they fought back and took the lead when they had a chance."
Accardo, who entered the game because Britton was pinch-hit for in the previous inning, issued a five-pitch leadoff walk to Ramos, and then an RBI double to former Oriole Jerry Hairston Jr., who went 3-for-3 with a walk. That gave the Nationals a 5-4 lead. With a man on second and no outs, Washington manager Jim Riggleman sent Burnett up there just to bunt, but as it turned out, the pitcher could have just kept his bat in the dugout. He walked on four pitches, none particularly close.
After Accardo finally got an out, he was removed in favor of Jason Berken. Pitching in his third consecutive game since his promotion, Berken allowed an RBI single to Jayson Werth and then a sacrifice fly to Ian Desmond to extend the Nationals lead to 7-4.
Roger Bernadina connected for a solo homer off Michael Gonzalez in the eighth inning to extend Washington's lead to four runs. The Nationals got two more base runners in the inning and the Orioles made one more gaffe -- Hardy's drop of Danny Espinosa's foul ball was his first error of the season -- before Koji Uehara struck out Espinosa to end the inning.