May 18, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Edwin Jackson (33) pitches in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE

Game 39: Orioles 2, Nationals 1 (11 Innings)

All of the fans in attendance certainly enjoyed the first episode of the “Battle of the Beltway” series.  Without a consistent offensive presence from either team, however, one swing of the bat made all of the difference.

After splitting with the Pirates earlier in the week, the Nationals (23-16) lost their second straight game, dropping one to the first place Orioles (26-14) by a count of 2-1 in extra frames.  O’s slugger Nick Markakis hit the game winning homer in the top of the 11th inning, and Nats’ starter Edwin Jackson earned a no decision despite a stellar performance.

Jackson (1-1) pitched eight strong innings Friday, only giving up five hits, one earned run, and one walk while striking out eight batters to make this his best start since his complete game against the Reds on April 14.  The Nats offense looked bleak once again overall, this time against Orioles starter Jake Arrieta.  While Bryce Harper was able to reach 3rd after an error by Robert Andino in the 2nd inning, the Nationals wouldn’t threaten again until Ian Desmond finally hit a homer to left field in the 6th inning to tie the game at 1-1 and reinvigorate the home crowd.  The Nats were given some opportunities to extend innings as a result of a few Orioles errors, but in the end the offense failed to produce enough hits to win the ballgame.

Arrieta’s (2-4) final line was similar to Jackson’s: one earned run on six hits, one walk, and nine strikeouts in seven innings of work.  The only run that the visitors could produce early came off an infield single by Adam Jones that hit Jackson’s heel in the 1st inning, which was able to score rookie outfielder Xavier Avery. The O’s had trouble getting hits throughout the contest and would only finish with six runners left on base.  However, after solid relief appearances by the Nats’ Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett in the 9th and 10th innings, respectively, it only took Markakis five pitches to unload a homer off reliever Ryan Mattheus in the 11th.  Despite a late, two-out charge by the Nats in the bottom of the 11th frame, the game would end when Adam LaRoche‘s infield tapper came right back to the pitcher for the final out.

Champ of the Game: Desmond, who went 2-5 with a homer in the 6th to keep the Nats in the game.  Markakis also went 2-5 for the O’s with the winning blast in the 11th.

Chump of the Game: Danny Espinosa, who was 0-3 with two strikeouts and an error.  He continues to struggle at the plate and one wonders if Steve Lombardozzi could replace him in the lineup soon.

Unsung Hero: Jackson, whose eight inning, 95 pitch performance truly kept the Orioles offense in check for the majority of the night.

Next Game: May 19th, 7:15 PM at home against the Orioles. Detwiler (3-2, 2.75) v. Hammel (4-1, 2.68)

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Danny Espinosa Edwin Jackson Ian Desmond Nationals Orioles Washington Nationals

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