- Associated Press - Sunday, June 27, 2010

BALTIMORE | There once was a time when a three-run cushion against the Baltimore Orioles represented an almost insurmountable lead.

Not anymore.

Miguel Tejada singled in the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning, and the Orioles rallied to beat the Washington Nationals 4-3 Sunday for their season-high fourth straight win.

In each game during their winning streak, the Orioles have fallen behind before coming back. It’s a formula that is a stark contrast to the previous norm.

After rallying from a 3-0 deficit to beat Florida on Thursday, Baltimore trailed by six runs on Friday against Washington and emerged from a five-run hole Saturday.

Sunday was more of the same.

“If you look around, you see guys around you that are excited to hit and ready to hit,” Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie said. “They are doing phenomenal things. When you are down six and five and three, and win all those games, that changes your mentality — knowing that you always have a chance to win the game, instead of, if they score a couple it’s over.”

It was the Orioles‘ first sweep since they took three from Boston on April 30-May 2. Baltimore lost 11 straight series before this weekend.

“To have these three comebacks, those are big wins for any ball club,” Guthrie said. “Especially for us, the way we’ve struggled in certain aspects of our game.”

With the score 3-all in the eighth, Julio Lugo hit a one-out double off Tyler Clippard (8-5) but strayed too far from second base and was picked off by catcher Wil Nieves. Corey Patterson followed with a double, and Tejada singled up the middle to give the Orioles their first lead of the game.

“Guys are starting to swing the bat and guys are picking each other up,” interim manager Juan Samuel said. “A perfect example: Lugo got picked off, Corey doubled, Tejada singled.”

Tejada has seven RBIs in his past four games and is 13 for 27 over his past six starts.

David Hernandez (3-6) struck out both batters he faced and Alfredo Simon worked the ninth for his ninth save.

Roger Bernadina homered for the Nationals, who have lost four in a row and 10 of 12. The Nationals failed to score after the fourth inning in all three games and were swept for the fifth time this season.

Asked if Washington (33-43) has hit rock bottom, manager Jim Riggleman replied, “That’s a tough question. I certainly don’t want to go lower.”

Clippard, who also took the loss Friday, couldn’t believe the Nationals blew leads of 6, 5 and 3 runs in successive games.

“It’s terrible. It’s devastating,” he said. “We’re battling our butts off, we’re playing good, but we’re coming up short. It’s not fun.”

Guthrie, who left with the score tied at 3, ended a run of five straight losing starts. The right-hander allowed three runs, three hits and four walks in six innings.

Washington starter Luis Atilano gave up three runs, two earned, and five hits in seven innings.

The Nationals went up 3-0 in the fourth. After Ryan Zimmerman drew a leadoff walk, Adam Jones broke the wrong way on Josh Willingham’s liner to center and failed to make a diving grab. The ball rolled to the wall for a triple, and two pitches later Bernadina homered.

Baltimore tied it in the fifth. Luke Scott and Jones hit successive one-out doubles, Matt Wieters singled and Scott Moore singled in a run. Lugo then hit a potential double-play grounder, but Adam Kennedy’s relay from second bounced past first base, allowing Wieters to score.

Neither team threatened again until the eighth, when Kennedy opened with a single off Will Ohman and took second on a single by Zimmerman. Ohman struck out Adam Dunn, and Hernandez struck out Willingham and Bernadina.

NOTES: The Orioles activated RHP Koji Uehara off the 15-day disabled list and designated 1B Garrett Atkins (.214, 1 HR) for assignment. … Before Bernadina connected, Washington’s previous eight homers were all solo shots. … Nationals INF Cristian Guzman was held out of the lineup after waking up with a sore neck.

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