- - Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Nationals game with the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday was delayed by rain around 8 p.m. with the Orioles leading 2-0 at Nationals Park starting the top of the fifth.

At around 10:30 p.m. the Nationals announced that the game would resume at about 10:55 p.m. Wednesday.

The Nationals had won the previous six games with the Orioles (20-51), including all four this season. Washington (39-32) began the day 3 ½ games back of first-place Atlanta in the National League East and that was cut to three games when the Braves lost Wednesday 5-4 to Toronto.

The Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the second Wednesday as Mark Trumbo crushed a two-run homer to left off Gio Gonzalez, who has given up a homer in each of his last four starts.

Lefty Gonzalez, who won at Baltimore last month, entered the game 2-6 in his career against the Orioles with 0-3 mark at Nationals Park in four starts. It was the fifth homer of the season for Trumbo.

The Nationals had a chance to take the lead in the last of the first inning but Orioles starting pitcher Andrew Cashner survived a threat.

Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper came up with runners on first and third and one out in the first inning and had the worst possible result.

He hit a grounder to Orioles first baseman Trumbo, who stepped on first and threw to second to retire Anthony Rendon for a double play to end the inning.

Harper entered the game hitting .083 in his last seven games and in his previous 15 games was hitting .143 with one homer in 56 at-bats.

Harper hit .319 last season and had a career mark of .279 going into Wednesday’s contest.

But manager Dave Martinez said Harper has had a positive attitude during his slump.

“He has been really positive, especially in the clubhouse,” Martinez said. “He wants to win very badly. He wants to win. I know he is going to hit. His power numbers are really good. He is going to get going; there is no doubt about it.”

Cashner, who did not allow a run in the first four innings, came off the disabled list to make the start while Orioles first baseman Corban Joseph was sent back to Double-A Bowie of the Eastern League. The starting catcher for the Orioles was Caleb Joseph, and the brothers were teammates in the majors for the first time on Tuesday.

Washington’s Daniel Murphy, who came off the disabled list June 12 after October knee surgery, started at first base. First baseman Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Adams are on the disabled list, while Mark Reynolds is another option at first base for the Nationals.

“He feels real good. He said he is ready to go today,” Martinez said before the game of Murphy.

The Nationals entered the game with a team batting average of .239 and had just three hits in the first four innings, including one by rookie Juan Soto.

Washington catcher Pedro Severino, batting eighth in the lineup, entered the game with a batting average of .188 and was 0-for-1 before the rain came.

“He has been working with (hitting coach Kevin Long). He works the counts really well,” Martinez said of Severino. “Hey, he’s young. We need to keep working with him.”

Nationals center fielder Michael A. Taylor was again out of the starting lineup with Harper in center, Adam Eaton in right and rookie Soto in left. “It is definitely hard. I tell him it’s a long season,” Martinez said of Taylor. “He’s going to play.”

Taylor has a league-high 21 steals and an average of .239.

NOTES: Virginia governor Ralph Northam threw out the ceremonial first pitch … The three-game series ends Thursday at 7:05 p.m. with Washington ace Max Scherzer (10-3, 2.06) facing fellow right-hander Kevin Gausman (3-6, 4.48) of the OriolesThe Nationals have used 44 players this year, the most in the National League … The Orioles lead the series with the Nationals since 2005 at 38-30, including 17-16 at Nationals Park.


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