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Nationals succumb to Orioles' late rally

Solid through six innings, Roark stumbles in seventh

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals and Orioles made up a July 8 rainout Monday night and Baltimore claimed a 7-3 win, and in the process won the Battle of the Beltways, three games to one.

The Nationals had a 3-2 lead entering the top of the seventh inning, but the Orioles scored three runs to take control. With a runner on second and right-hander Tanner Roark on the mound, Ryan Flaherty laced a ball over Denard Span's head in center field for an RBI double, which tied the score at 3. Delmon Young, pinch-hitting for pitcher Kevin Gausman, singled to center, scoring Flaherty to put the O's on top.

"I think he got some pitches up," manager Matt Williams said about Roark. "Then he hung a slider to Young. He was pretty good up until that point. The ball was up in the zone."

After the game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter talked about how Young has worked hard to become a productive hitter off the bench this year.

"He got a big hit. He works so hard at it," Showalter said. "I see him rattling in the cage from the first or second inning on, especially in the National League. I see the work he does, the things he did in the offseason. We had a good conversation when he first came to camp, talked about signing, what was expected. He's been beyond that, work-habit wise. He's a professional. The guy's 28 years old."

Three batters later, Craig Stammen was on the mound when Adam Jones singled to left field, scoring Young.

In the next inning, Stammen allowed a two-run single to Caleb Joseph, who drove in three runs in the game.

In his last 10 games, Stammen has allowed 14 earned runs over 16 innings and seen his ERA sore from 2.52 to 4.07. It hasn't helped that Stammen hasn't seen a lot of action. He has pitched only twice in the last 12 games.

"We have to get him in there," Williams said. "We have to try to find innings. The starting pitchers have been going so deep and they have been close games, too. So you turn it over to the back-of-the-bullpen guys to win a game. It's tough to find Stammen innings. We'll continue to try and do that."

As for Roark, he lasted 6 1/3 innings and allowed five runs on seven hits. It was Roark's worst outing since May 3, when he allowed seven runs in four innings against the Phillies.

After six innings, not only had Roark allowed just two runs, but it was his turn to bat in the bottom of the sixth. Williams decided to let Roark hit, and he lined out to Orioles first baseman Chris Davis.

"There is thought to [take Roark out of] the game, but it depends on who we have available," Williams said. "The bullpen has been pitching a lot lately. But we have the lead. The ball almost got down the line. In that situation, Roark had a low pitch count, he is pitching well."

Roark said he understood why Williams left him in the game.

"He has confidence in me, and that's all a starting pitcher could ask for," Roark said.

In the second inning, Wilson Ramos gave Washington a 1-0 lead by hitting a monster home run over the right-field wall.

After Baltimore tied it up in the top of the third inning, Jayson Werth gave Washington the lead back with a sacrifice fly. The Nationals added to their lead in the fourth inning when Ramos hit into a double play, scoring Bryce Harper.

The highlights of the game for Washington came from Span. He made two great defensive plays in center field. In the second inning, he caught a line drive off the bat of Flaherty and was able to double off Davis to end the inning. Four innings later, he made a nice sliding catch off the bat of Nelson Cruz. Span received a standing ovation from the crowd.

"I think he could get to any ball -- from left-center to right-center," Roark said. "He is amazing out there. That was a heck of a play. It kept us in the game."

With the loss, the Nationals lead the Braves by three games in the National League East.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.
Read More: Washington Nationals, Craig Stammen, Denard Span, Tanner Roark