- - Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Orioles are in the midst of a historically terrible season, with 50 losses in their first 71 games and owners of the worst record in the majors.

To their credit plenty of orange-clad fans were sprinkled among the home red Tuesday night at Nationals Park. But it was again an unhappy ending for the visitors as the Nationals rallied for four runs in the fifth and four more in the seventh for a 9-7 victory over the Orioles before a crowd of 33,391 fans.

Washington (39-32) entered the contest 3 1/2 games back of first-place Atlanta in the National League and snapped a four-game losing streak as shortstop Trea Turner was 4-for-4 with a homer and double. The Nationals have beaten the Orioles six times in a row.

The Nationals got a two-run double by Anthony Rendon in the seventh off lefty Tanner Scott to take a 7-6 lead. Michael A. Taylor, who didn’t start the game, and Wilmer Difo had RBI singles to make it 9-6 off reliever Mike Wright, Jr.

The Orioles assumed a 6-5 lead in the sixth as Danny Valencia scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of pinch-hitter Corban Joseph, whose brother Caleb started at catcher for Baltimore. It was the first time the brothers were teammates on the same big league club.

The Orioles got some unlikely offense against Nationals rookie pitcher Jefry Rodriguez.

Baltimore right fielder Jace Peterson, who entered the game hitting .196, hit a two-run homer in third inning to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.

Then in the fourth hitting, Trey Mancini, batting .189 in June prior to the contest, slammed a two-run shot to left to give the visitors a 4-1 edge.

Rodriguez had control problems in the fifth when he walked the first two batters and then hit Adam Jones with a pitch. Manny Machado then grounded into a double play to allow a run to score for a 5-1 lead.

But Washington scored four in the fifth to tie the game at 5-5. Adam Eaton had a two-run single, Rendon had a sacrifice fly and Bryce Harper hit a bloop double to drive in a run and send starter David Hess to the showers.

The Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the second as Turner lined a solo homer to left off Orioles rookie Hess. It was the eighth homer of the year for Turner and his first since June 3.

Before the game, the Nationals added reliever Kelvin Herrera to the 25-man roster and also activated right-hander Rodriguez from Double-A Harrisburg to start against the Orioles, who lost all three games to the Nationals last month in Baltimore.

Herrera pitched the top of the eighth and retired all three Orioles he faced. Regular closer Sean Doolittle pitched the ninth for his 19th save in 20 tries, despite allowing a homer.

Washington sent reliever Wander Suero, who pitched in two games Monday, to Triple-A Syracuse and first baseman/left fielder Matt Adams went on the 10-day disabled list with a fractured left index finger that injured last weekend in Toronto.

It was the first big league start for Rodriguez, who made his debut at Atlanta on June 3 as he came on out of the bullpen for injured starter Jeremy Hellickson. In that game, Rodriguez allowed no runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings. He gave up five runs on Tuesday.

Rodriguez last pitched on Thursday and did not allow an earned run for Harrisburg, and minor league pitching coordinator Paul Menhart feels the 24-year-old Dominican learned from his first big league stint.

“He filled a void, a nice void in that game in Atlanta,” Menhart told The Washington Times before Rodriguez took the mound Tuesday. “I think what he gained was … confidence and belief that he belonged (in the majors) and could do it. It carried over when he went to Harrisburg and continued to pitch with very good confidence. He really didn’t miss a beat. He has earned it.”

But the Orioles certainly made his first start one to forget Tuesday.

In other pitching news, Martinez said all-star right-hander Stephen Strasburg (6-6, 3.46) is making progress after he went on the disabled list June 10 with right shoulder inflammation. There is no timetable for his return.

“He is progressing well,” Martinez said.

The series continues Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. with Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez (6-3, 3.01) facing Orioles right-hander Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.98). Nationals ace Max Scherzer (10-3, 2.06), who leads the National League in wins, will face Orioles righty Kevin Gausman (3-6, 4.48) on Thursday at 7:05 p.m.

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