Harper, Espinosa HRs carry Nationals over Orioles 7-4
BALTIMORE (AP) The Washington Nationals appeared to be mired in another offensive funk as the sixth inning began at Camden Yards.
Having made 10 straight outs against Baltimore Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, the Nationals desperately needed a spark to turn things around.
Bryce Harper got Washington started with his 26th home run, and Danny Espinoza subsequently added a three-run shot to propel the Nationals to a 7-4 victory Saturday night.
After Harper's leadoff homer, Clint Robinson and Wilson Ramos singled before Espinosa sent an 0-1 pitch over the 25-foot scoreboard in right field for a 6-4 lead.
Though Espinoza's blow was the difference-maker, Harper provided the impetus for the comeback with a no-doubt drive to right field.
''That ball was crushed. Pretty impressive,'' Espinosa said. ''He seems to do that a lot.''
Espinosa wasn't sure what he was going to be asked to do when he came to the plate later in the inning.
''Thought maybe we would do a sac bunt,'' he said. ''Definitely a fun situation to be in right there with Bryce having hit the home run and having a couple of guys on base.''
It was his 10th home run, second-most on the team behind Harper.
Harper's home run was his first against the Orioles in 12 career games. He's 8 for 44 (.182) with three RBIs against Baltimore, including 5 for 26 at Camden Yards.
''I can't see (the ball) here very well,'' Harper said. ''I feel it's a little dark.''
Jordan Zimmermann (8-5) won his third straight start despite allowing four runs and nine hits in five innings. He was pitching one day after his wife gave birth to the couple's second child.
''Not a lack of focus,'' he insisted. ''Just didn't have it tonight.''
Caleb Joseph and Steve Pearce homered for the Orioles, who have lost nine of 12. Baltimore went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and is 0 for 15 in that situation over the first two games of the series.
''We're just going through it right now, a tough period,'' Pearce said. ''We've got to try to battle through it, and we'll do it.''
Gonzalez gave up two runs and five hits over the first two innings, then appeared to regain his command before things unraveled in the sixth.
''I didn't think he was very sharp tonight early on,'' Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ''Miguel, like a lot of good pitchers, kind of found his step in the third, fourth and fifth. But it wasn't there for him in the sixth.''
Michael Taylor added an RBI single in the ninth for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game skid. It was only the second time in nine games they scored more than three runs.
Drew Storen, the fourth Washington reliever, got three outs for his 26th save.
The interleague matchup between neighboring rivals drew 44,495 fans, the second straight sellout at Camden Yards. The deciding game will be played Sunday before both teams head into the All-Star break.
Washington's first inning ended when Yunel Escobar was thrown out trying to score on a double by Robinson. Jimmy Paredes hit a run-scoring grounder in the bottom half.
After the Nationals used a run-scoring grounder and an RBI single by Taylor to go up 2-1 in the second, Joseph answered with a two-run drive in the Baltimore half.
Pearce made it 4-2 in the fourth with his seventh home run, the first since May 27.
Before this game, Zimmermann allowed only one run over 22 2-3 innings.
''For sure, it wasn't one of my better outings,'' he said. ''I guess I'm happy about four runs - it could have been worse.''
Washington activated Zimmermann from the paternity list and optioned LHP Sammy Solis to Double-A Harrisburg.
Nationals: INF Ryan Zimmerman, sidelined since June 10 with plantar fasciitis, is moving closer to beginning a rehabilitation assignment. ''He's walking, jogging, batting, fielding,'' manager Matt Williams said.
Orioles: RF Chris Davis was a late scratch with gastroenteritis (stomach flu).
Nationals: Max Scherzer (9-7, 2.12 ERA) will start in Sunday's series finale and therefore will not appear in the All-Star Game. ''It's a great honor to be able to pitch in an All-Star Game,'' Williams said, ''but his view is that the most important thing is to help us win games.''
Orioles: Wei-Yin Chen (4-4, 2.82 ERA) takes the Orioles into the break looking to lower his 6.60 ERA career vs. Washington.