Chen continues quality to cap stellar 1st half

O's lefty takes tough loss after fourth-inning hiccup, allows 2 ER or fewer in seventh straight start

Chen continues quality to cap stellar 1st half

BALTIMORE -- Wei-Yin Chen closed a fantastic first half with his fifth consecutive quality start on Sunday afternoon. But -- as has been the case multiple times over his 17 starts -- a struggling Baltimore lineup couldn't support Chen in a 3-2 loss to the Nationals.

Chen was terrific, holding Washington to three runs (two earned) -- all in the fourth inning -- en route to eight strong frames.

"Wei-Yin's been solid for us. 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," manager Buck Showalter said. "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."

The 102-pitch outing marked the seventh consecutive time Chen has held an opponent to two earned runs or fewer and lowered his season ERA to 2.78 over 110 innings. Chen has made it clear that his personal goal in 2015 is to hit 200 innings, and he's well on his way.

"I pitched more innings than I thought I could, so I'm satisfied with the number of innings I pitched," Chen said through his interpreter, "and hopefully I can have a pretty good second half, too."

Chen has matched his career-high eight innings four times this season and has pitched to a 1.95 ERA over his last five games. He struck out seven on Sunday and didn't issue a walk.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.