MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nats unable to convert on 8th-inning threat

Murphy gets caught off second after leadoff double before Zim K's in big spot

Nats unable to convert on 8th-inning threat

BALTIMORE -- The Nationals had a chance to at least tie the game in the eighth inning in their 4-3 loss to the Orioles on Monday night at Camden Yards, but a baserunning blunder and not delivering with runners in scoring position proved costly.

With left-hander Donnie Hart on the mound and Washington down by a run, Daniel Murphy led off with a double. Bryce Harper was the next hitter and he hit a comebacker to Hart, who noticed that Murphy was leaning too far off second base. Hart then threw to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who was able to quickly tag Murphy for the first out of the inning.

"Most times you are taught to freeze there in that situation," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "It looked like Murphy might have had time to get back. The pitcher did a good job in freezing him."

But the Nationals still had an opportunity later in the inning with Orioles right-hander Brad Brach on the mound.

After Wilson Ramos grounded out to advance Harper at second base, Brach walked Anthony Rendon and then threw a wild pitch to put runners on second and third with Ryan Zimmerman at the plate.

Zimmerman saw six pitches and worked the count to 2-2 before Brach struck him out with a splitter to end the threat.

Brach retires Zimmerman

"I thought [Zimmerman] had a great at-bat," Murphy said. "Willie hit the ball hard when Bryce was on the move right there. We couldn't quite catch the [Orioles] right there."

The Nationals ended up going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

"Situational hitting has been generally decent this year, but you always want more," Baker said. "You can look back on one-run games, and they have been kind of haunting us on the road this year. We certainly have to get better. We have to take pride in winning those one-run games."

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.