Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson vowed not to shave until his team's bats heated up. After the Nationals' best offensive performance in six weeks, he plans to keep his scruffy look a bit longer.
Washington totaled nine runs while dropping four of five from May 18-22, prompting Johnson to tell his team before Friday's game in Philadelphia that he would not shave until it started hitting.
The Nationals (27-25) have scored 25 runs in the five games since while finishing with at least 10 hits four times, including a 9-3 win over Baltimore on Tuesday. Now it appears their manager won't shave for fear of jinxing the hot hitting."Maybe (the beard) is working," Johnson said. "I can't shave right now."
Adam LaRoche homered twice while Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina also hit home runs for Washington, which posted its highest run total since setting a season high in a 10-3 victory over Miami on April 15. The Nationals have won four of six.
"It looks pretty bad, doesn't it? I hope he looks like Santa at the end of the year if we keep winning," Moore said.
Zimmermann (8-2, 1.71 ERA) was on the mound when the runs started coming Friday, as he pitched through a stiff neck and allowed two runs in seven innings to beat Philadelphia 5-2. He's given up two or fewer runs in nine of his 10 starts while pitching through seven innings in each of his last six.
"It was definitely nice to get a five-run cushion and kind of put it on cruise control," Zimmermann said.
The right-hander, though, hasn't gotten much offensive help against the Orioles. Zimmermann has gone 1-2 with a 2.70 ERA in four matchups, receiving eight runs of support.
He'll look to slow a Baltimore lineup that had scored at least five runs in six straight games prior to Tuesday. Chris Davis hit his major league-best 17th home run, though Nick Markakis went 0 for 4 and had his 12-game hitting streak snapped.
Baltimore (28-24) will send Chris Tillman to the mound Wednesday as he looks to deliver another solid outing.
Tillman (4-2, 3.68) has shaken off a tough start to go 4-1 with a 2.62 ERA over his last seven outings. He didn't have his best stuff but got bailed out by the Orioles' bats Friday, allowing three runs and a season-worst 10 hits in five innings of a 10-6 win at Toronto.
The right-hander had received one run of support in each of his previous two starts.
Tillman has faced the Nationals once, giving up one run in five innings of Baltimore's 2-1 win May 22, 2011. Denard Span , riding a nine-game hitting streak, has faced Tillman the most among the Nationals and is 3 for 7.
It doesn't appear the Nationals will have Bryce Harper , who has missed the last two games with a knee injury, until after Thursday. There's a chance, though, that second baseman Danny Espinosa will play for the first time since May 22 after suffering a broken bone in his right wrist.
The Orioles have won seven of the last nine meetings at home.
|May 26, 2013||Bryce Harper||Day-to-Day||Left game - Sore left knee|
|May 24, 2013||Danny Espinosa||Day-to-Day||Broken bone in right wrist|
|May 20, 2013||Ryan Mattheus||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand|
|May 20, 2013||Ryan Mattheus||Day-to-Day||Broken right hand|
|May 16, 2013||Ross Detwiler||15-Day DL||Right back muscle strain|
|May 16, 2013||Wilson Ramos||15-Day DL||Left hamstring strain|
|May 24, 2013||Pedro Strop||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|May 13, 2013||Wei-Yin Chen||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|May 12, 2013||Nolan Reimold||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 12, 2013||Wei-Yin Chen||Day-to-Day||Right oblique strain|
|May 04, 2013||Miguel Gonzalez||15-Day DL||Right thumb blister|
|May 04, 2013||Miguel Gonzalez||15-Day DL||Right thumb blister|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- Ryan Zimmerman hit three home runs in the first five innings, leaving the Baltimore Orioles with a four-run deficit to overcome against one of the best pitchers in the National League.
On a toasty night at Camden Yards, the Orioles turned to their hottest player to get them out of the hole.
Chris Davis went 4 for 4 with two homers, and the Orioles battled back to beat Jordan Zimmermann and the Washington Nationals 9-6 Wednesday night.
In a wild game before 39,129 fans, each team slugged four home runs and Baltimore got six of its 13 hits in a six-run seventh inning.
"To battle back and really pull it out in a game like that is huge," Davis said. "I gave a little fist bump to let you know how much this win meant to us."
Zimmerman hit solo homers in the first and fourth innings before adding a two-run drive in the fifth, all off Chris Tillman . With a chance to tie the major league record of four homers in a game, Zimmerman came to the plate in the seventh against Steve Johnson and looked at a third strike.
It was the first three-homer game of Zimmerman's career. He came in with three home runs in 38 games this season.
"It's tough to have a night like that and not be able to kind of celebrate or have fun with it because we lost," Zimmerman said. "I've been kind of swinging the bat better. Tonight, everything kind of came together in one game."
Davis hit a solo drive in the fourth and capped the pivotal seventh with his major-league leading 19th homer, a two-run shot off Tyler Clippard .
"He's been doing that the whole year, so every home run he hits from now on is just another one," teammate Manny Machado said. "It's impressive pop. He's a tremendous hitter and he's swinging the bat well."
Davis is batting .359 after going 18 for 30 over his last seven games.
"It's fun," he said. "You're always working on things, whether you're locked in or struggling. Just the consistent approach every day has helped me out."
Steve Johnson (1-1) pitched 2 1-3 innings and Jim Johnson worked a perfect ninth for his 16th save.
Baltimore trailed 6-3 in the seventh before rallying against Jordan Zimmermann (8-3), who was seeking to become the majors' first nine-game winner.
After Ryan Flaherty singled and Steve Pearce homered, Nate McLouth got an infield hit and scored on a double by Machado. Clippard entered and gave up an RBI single to Nick Markakis before Davis crushed a 3-2 pitch to make it 9-6.
"It's on me. I am too good a pitcher to let that happen," Clippard said. "You have to execute the pitches you need to throw in those situations."
Zimmermann gave up seven runs and 10 hits in six-plus innings. He came in with a 1.71 ERA and a streak of 15 straight starts allowing three runs or less.
He, like Clippard, shouldered the blame for the defeat.
"Those guys give me six runs like that and I ought to do a better job. We should win this ball game," Zimmermann said. "It's solely on me this time."
Tillman gave up six runs and eight hits - including a career-high four homers - in 4 2-3 innings. He left with Baltimore down 6-2.
In his defense, it was a tough night to be a pitcher.
"Strange things happen in this ballpark," said Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who held the same job with the Orioles in 1996-97. "It's a great ballpark to hit in, but it's a tough park to pitch in."
The major league record for home runs in a game is four. The last to do it was Josh Hamilton , for Texas on May 8, 2012, at Camden Yards, of all places.
After Zimmerman homered in the first inning, Baltimore tied it in the second. Davis singled and scored on an RBI double by Flaherty, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk earlier in the day.
In the Washington fourth, Roger Bernadina sent a shot onto Eutaw Street beyond the right-field wall and Zimmerman followed with a drive to center that traveled an estimated 430 feet. After going homerless in the first 36 games of the season, Bernadina has connected in two straight.
Davis got the Orioles to 3-2 in the bottom half, but Zimmerman's third homer of the game highlighted a three-run fifth for Washington. Markakis homered with no one aboard in the sixth for Baltimore.
Coming into the game, Zimmermann had allowed only three homers in 10 starts, no more than one per game.
NOTES: Baltimore optioned INF Yamaico Navarro to Norfolk to make room for Flaherty. ... Washington 2B Danny Espinosa (wrist) returned after a five-game absence. ... Nationals RF Jayson Werth (groin) was scheduled to begin his rehab assignment with Single-A Potomac on Wednesday night. ... Baltimore RHP Freddy Garcia faces Dan Haren in the series finale Thursday night. ... Davis has scored a run in eight straight games, three short of the team record set by Frank Robinson in 1966.