WASHINGTON -- As Giovany Gonzalez walked off the mound before the start of the fifth inning, with rain descending and the tarp being rolled out to cover the field at Nationals Park, he pointed to the sky as if to signal the need for a dome. That was before a
WASHINGTON -- As Giovany Gonzalez walked off the mound before the start of the fifth inning, with rain descending and the tarp being rolled out to cover the field at Nationals Park, he pointed to the sky as if to signal the need for a dome. That was before a two-hour, 43-minute rain delay interrupted the Nats' 3-0 loss to the Orioles, which began Wednesday night and ended in the opening hours of Thursday morning in front of a few remaining fans from the announced crowd of 32,153.
"I did tell Davey [Martinez] I would try my hardest to put us through five before this rain comes," Gonzalez said. "If [home-plate umpire Jerry Meals] didn't tell us to put the tarp out there, I definitely would be out there in five right now."
The Nationals did not muster much offense either before or after the delay as they were shut out for the fourth time in the past 10 games and fifth time in 17 games this month.
On Wednesday night, it was tough for the Nationals to gather any momentum. The Orioles benefited from an early offensive burst after Gonzalez hung a curveball in the second inning to Mark Trumbo, who deposited the ball into the left-field seats for a two-run home run. It gave Baltimore a lead before the rain arrived and ended Gonzalez's day prematurely after four innings of two-run ball.
Before the delay, the Nats managed just three hits against Orioles right-hander Andrew Cashner, who tossed four scoreless innings before he left the game. And they collected just two more hits after the delay, striking out seven times as four Orioles relievers combined for five scoreless innings. Brad Brach closed out the game, getting a bases-loaded strikeout to end it.
"For me, it's not really about the hits, it's about the at-bats," manager Dave Martinez said. "We lined out quite a few times today. I'm not too concerned about -- we've got some pretty good hitters. We just gotta keep pushing, keep going. The runs will come. I know they'll come. When they do come, they'll come in bunches."
The loss snaps the Nationals' six-game winning streak against their area rivals as Baltimore beat Washington for the first time this season.
"I think consistency is just hard in itself," Anthony Rendon said of the team's struggles on offense. "You play 162 games, back to back and back to back. We're playing at the highest level, and guys are throwing 98-mph sinkers. So it's kind of hard to be consistent and square that up with a round bat and a round ball."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After struggling to find offense all night, the Nationals loaded the bases in the ninth inning after a pair of singles and a walk against Brach. That brought Mark Reynolds to the plate as the potential game-winning run with two outs, but Brach froze him with a called third strike to end the game.
"We didn't quit," Martinez said. "We had bases loaded with a chance to win the game. We just gotta keep going."
Michael A. Taylor extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games with his pinch-hit single in the ninth inning against Brach. During the streak Taylor is batting .457 with a home run, six RBIs, four walks and eight stolen bases.
HE SAID IT
"Sit. Really, nothing to do. Text people. Rest. Nothing to do." -- Rendon, on how he spent the nearly three-hour rain delay
The Nationals wrap up the season series with the Orioles during Wednesday's finale at 7:05 p.m. ET. Max Scherzer takes the mound after dropping his last two starts -- a single mistake led to a loss in each of those outings. He will look to avoid losing three consecutive starts for the first time since 2015. Kevin Gausman will take the mound for Baltimore.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.