BALTIMORE -- Jonathan Schoop delivered a walk-off home run to left field in the ninth inning, lifting the Orioles to a 3-2 series-opening win over the Nationals in front of 46,289, Camden Yards' largest home crowd of the season.
"It makes [all the knee rehab] worth it, because you work so hard to be back, and it's paying off right now quick," said Schoop, who was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list on Sunday. "We have to keep going. This is not the end. This is something to give me more motivation and get me more confident in myself."
With the Orioles trailing, 2-1, and held scoreless since the fourth, Matt Wieters tied the game in the eighth by roping the first pitch from Matt Thornton into the right-center gap for a double that scored Chris Parmelee. An inning later, Schoop put the finishing touches on the comeback victory with his two-out homer and the first walk-off blast of his career.
Gio Gonzalez provided solid groundwork for the Nats, giving up a run in six-plus innings, but the Washington bullpen faltered. After Aaron Barrett held the Orioles scoreless for an inning, Casey Janssen and Thornton combined to allow the tying run. Tanner Roark served up the homer and took the loss, while Zach Britton picked up the win for Baltimore -- its second victory in its last eight games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bottom of the order comes through for Nats: Trailing, 1-0, the Nationals scored two runs in the fifth inning off Chris Tillman. Clint Robinson scored the tying run on a double by Tyler Moore, who hit eighth in the order. Michael Taylor, hitting ninth, followed and singled to left field, scoring Moore. That would be the last run for the Nationals, who went 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
"We just didn't swing the bats as good as we could," Moore said. "The pitching was great. It's just frustrating. You just want to swing the bats a little better." More >
Tillman's fifth inning struggles: Tillman rebounded nicely from his 4 2/3-inning performance in his last start, except for one inning. The right-hander gave up five of his eight hits in the fifth inning. Prior to the fifth, Tillman had faced just one batter over the minimum. He finished the game going six innings, giving up two runs while striking out six and picking up his seventh quality start of the season. The Orioles have now won six of Tillman's last seven starts while the right-hander is 4-0 with a 4.62 ERA and four quality starts over that span.
"I never really felt like I was in all that much trouble," Tillman said. "Then we scored, and I gave up a run right after. I feel like I got beat on the ground. And that's the goal, to keep the ball on the ground. That inning, they did beat me on the ground. So you tip your cap and move up to the next one." More >
Gio has another strong outing: Gonzalez had his third consecutive quality start, allowing one run in six-plus innings. His only blemish was a solo home run to Adam Jones in the fourth inning.
Gonzalez credited catcher Jose Lobaton for helping him attack the strike zone. The batterymates have clicked for the last three games. With Lobaton behind the plate, Gonzalez has allowed two runs in 20 innings.
"He is helping me out with pitches low in the zone. Lobby and I are in sync right now. He is calling a great game, and I'm just throwing it where he wants it," Gonzalez said.
Barrett stymies O's, who tag 'pen later: After Gonzalez walked Jimmy Paredes to start the seventh inning, Aaron Barrett -- activated from the disabled list earlier Friday and pitching in his first game since June 11 -- dominated in relief. He struck out J.J. Hardy and Schoop before getting Manny Machado to pop up to Ian Desmond to end the inning. But the Orioles tied the score in the eighth. After he allowed a single to Chris Parmelee, Janssen left the game in favor of Thornton, who allowed Wieters' RBI double. The following inning, Schoop hung the loss on Roark.
"He got some good wood on it. It got out of here. That's what basically happened," Roark said about Schoop. "I thought it was a good pitch. Maybe it could have been been a touch lower. Like I said, he put good wood on it, and it got out." More >
Wieters' big night: The Orioles' catcher grounded out to second base in his first at-bat, but picked up hits in each of his following plate appearances, stroking his tying double after hitting two singles. Wieters finished the game tying a season high with three hits, going 2-for-3 off Gonzalez to increase his average to .588 against the lefty in his career.
"Facing Thornton a lot in the past, you know he likes being aggressive with his fastball, so I was trying to get a pitch I could get a pretty good swing at, and I was able to find the gap," Wieters said.
"Here's what you like about Matt. Matt had four games where it was a struggle with the bat. It was a day game, and usually he gets there early to go over all the hitters that we're going to face that night when he's catching, and he was in there early. He's not going to give in to saying it's just a period he's got to go through. He spent a lot of time in the cage that day. He came out with three hits that night. Matt's not going to take mediocrity. He's not going to just say, 'It's just something I've got to go through because I've been out.' He wants it to end after every at-bat." --Showalter, on Wieters
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Gonzalez walked three batters on Friday. Before Friday, the Nationals as a team issued no more than two walks in their last 20 games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 20-game streak is the longest such stretch for any team in the Live Ball Era since 1920 and the second longest streak since 1900.
With one out in the top of the seventh, the Orioles challenged Taylor's steal of second. Following a one-minute, 22-second review, the call was overturned, and Baltimore retained its challenge. The replay showed that second baseman Schoop tagged Taylor's knee before his foot touched the base.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: After taking one day of paternity leave following the birth of his second child, Jordan Zimmermann will return to the mound to face the Orioles for the fifth time in his career Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET. He is 1-3 with a 4.13 ERA against them. Zimmermann has been hot of late, allowing one run in his last 22 2/3 innings.
Orioles: The Orioles will send Miguel Gonzalez (7-5, 3.87 ERA) to the mound. The right-hander will make his first career start against the Nationals, and he is coming off a six-inning win over the White Sox in his last start, during which he gave up one run on four hits while striking out three.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Connor Smolensky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.