- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ubaldo Jimenez pitched six gritty innings to earn his 100th career win and added an RBI single as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Washington Nationals 4-1 Tuesday night in the rain-delayed opener of a series between teams fighting to remain in the playoff race.

The 31-year-old Jimenez (12-9) won his third straight decision for Baltimore, which began the night trailing three teams and six games back for the AL’s second wild card.

The Nationals remained 6 1-2 games back of the Mets, who lost to Atlanta, in the NL East. But New York’s magic number to clinch the division dropped to six.

Bryce Harper set the Nationals record for walks, getting three free passes that upped his season total to 118.

Jimenez walked five, but allowed just an unearned run on three hits while also striking out five.

Monday’s opener was postponed by rain. The teams are scheduled to play a makeup game Thursday.

Darren O’Day pitched the ninth inning for his fourth save.

Chris Davis and Steve Pearce had RBI doubles for Baltimore.

Michael Taylor had two hits for Washington. Gio Gonzalez (11-8) lasted 4 2-3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks.

He came in having allowed just three earned runs over his last three starts.

Gonzalez walked two batters with one out in the second inning and both scored.

After Junior Lake flied to right — with Caleb Joseph advancing to third on the play — Jimenez lined a two-out single to center to make it 1-0. J.J. Hardy scored on a Nolan Reimold single.

The Orioles have committed the fewest errors in the majors, but they picked up two in the fourth.

Lake, filling in for Adam Jones in center, dropped a flyball for a two-base error to start the inning.

Jimenez had a chance to escape unscathed when, with runners on the corners with one out, Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton hit a potential double-play grounder toward second, but Jonathan Schoop bobbled it. Everyone was safe and Cliff Robinson scored to pull Washington to 2-1.

The Orioles bumped it to 4-1 in the fifth. After Manny Machado singled, Davis doubled down the left-field line. Machado eluded Lobaton’s tag, managing to slide his hand across the back of home plate.

Pearce followed with a double, scoring Davis.

In injury news, Orioles manager Buck Showalter was unsure if Jones (back spasms) would return Wednesday.  Right-handed pitcher Miguel Gonzalez (right shoulder tendinitis) will pitch a simulated game Wednesday.

For the Nationals, an MRI revealed INF Danny Espinosa has a small tear in his right hamstring, manager Matt Williams said.

“We’ll have to be cautious with him for sure,” said Williams, who didn’t have a timetable regarding Espinosa’s availability.

Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann could have been moved ahead of right-hander Tanner Roark to pitch Thursday’s makeup game with Baltimore on normal rest, but has a stiff neck and will pitch Friday as planned.

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