BALTIMORE -- Max Scherzer tossed 8 2/3 innings, holding the Orioles to four hits, two of which were solo homers by Adam Jones, in the Nationals' 3-2 victory Sunday at Camden Yards. The Nats claimed the Battle of the Beltways series and head into the All-Star break in first place in the National League East with a 48-39 record.
After giving up Jones' first homer in the first inning, Scherzer responded by retiring 14 in a row before allowing two singles in the sixth. He didn't give up another run until two outs in the ninth inning, when Jones smacked his second. After Drew Storen earned his 27th save, Scherzer picked up his 10th win of the season, joining him with the Mariners' Felix Hernandez as the only pitchers to win 10 games before the All-Star break in each of the last three seasons.
Wei-Yin Chen pitched well for the Orioles, lasting eight innings for the third time in five starts, but he gave up three runs in the fourth inning thanks to a two-out RBI single from Dan Uggla and Tyler Moore's two-run double. The Nationals wouldn't need any more offensive production as the Orioles dropped their 10th game in the last 13, scoring just 39 runs over that span to drop them back down to .500 for the first time since June 14.
"We haven't really felt like we've been able to hit on all cylinders, where offense and pitching has kind of clicked together," Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. "That's the key, and our starting pitching is throwing the ball well. They're going to keep doing that. The offense [has to] step up a little bit."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Scherzer dominates: In his last game before going to Cincinnati to attend the All-Star festivities, Scherzer was in command against the Orioles. He came one out away from recording his fourth complete game in six starts, allowing two runs, striking out seven and walking none. He retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced.
"I was executing pitches. It started with no walks. It allows you to pitch efficiently, pitch deep in the games, and that can always help the ballclub," Scherzer said. "So I'm proud of that. Willie [catcher Wilson Ramos] did a great job back there of knowing when to sequence stuff. I did a good job executing all my pitches when I needed to." More >
Jones passes Robinson: Jones' pair of long balls were significant, giving him 180 as an Oriole and moving him ahead of Hall of Famer Frank Robinson for sole possession of eighth place on the club's all-time list.
"Frank, any time you do anything and mention his name, that's pretty cool," Jones said. "He did that in six years here? Took me eight. He's a little better. Any time you are in the conversation with him, especially with this rich history the Orioles do have, it's pretty cool." More >
Nats tops at the bottom: The Nationals scored all of their runs in the fourth inning, thanks to their bench at the bottom of the order. Uggla's tying single came from the seventh spot, while Moore hit his decisive double batting No. 8.
"When guys are given a chance, you like to see them come through," Uggla said. "Timo [Moore] and Clint have been getting a lot of playing time. They are great hitters. Just because they are not everyday guys, it doesn't mean they can't play. They get an opportunity, they are going to rake. It's always fun to watch those guys hit those balls hard." More >
Chen great over eight, but it's not enough: Chen gave up two or fewer runs in his seventh straight start, but he was saddled with a tough loss. The lefty lasted eight innings, allowing eight hits and three runs (two earned) while striking out seven. It was Chen's fifth straight quality start, and he has gone 2-1 with a 1.95 ERA while holding opponents to a .203 batting average in that span.
"Wei-Yin's been solid for us," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "After having him for a while, we've got a pretty good idea what works for him and what doesn't. He's really taken to it. He's been solid. I'll tell you something, too, that goes unnoticed is how he is in day games. It kind of tells you a little something about not only conditioning but being ready. He's a guy when you try to move some things around, it always seems to fit in his makeup." More >
"He was able to get it to a special place in this park. He just did a good job competing against me with two strikes and hitting my offspeed stuff. Credit to him." -- Scherzer, on Jones' two homers
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• All three of the Orioles-Nationals games had sellout crowds at Camden Yards, with 137,031 fans attending the weekend set. "I'm really proud of the support we've gotten the past three days," Showalter said. "It's a tough ride home for me personally, but not as tough as for some fans that really went out of the way to support us. It tugs at me."
• Scherzer has not allowed a walk since June 14 against the Brewers, a total of five consecutive starts without a free pass. "It's command of his pitches," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "He threw some curveballs today, some changeups when he had to. He used his fastball effectively. That just tells us that he is in command of all of them. He can get ahead in the count. If he gets behind or gets into a full count, he can make a pitch."
After missing Saturday's game as a late scratch with gastroenteritis, Chris Davis returned to right field, and he promptly made a run-saving catch in the first inning. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: Once the break is over, the Nats start a three-game series against the Dodgers starting Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET at Nationals Park. Williams said he will figure out his rotation during the break.
Orioles: Baltimore will head to Detroit following the break, opening a three-game series with the Tigers on Friday at 7:08 p.m. ET. Ubaldo Jimenez (7-4, 2.81 ERA), Chris Tillman (6-7, 5.40) and Miguel Gonzalez (7-6, 4.24) will pitch over the weekend series.
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.