Hammel leads Orioles over Nationals 2-1
By DAVID GINSBURG
BALTIMORE (AP) It would have taken quite a performance for Jason Hammel to improve upon his previous start, so the Baltimore Orioles right-hander happily settled for going deep into the game and earning another victory.
Hammel pitched eight innings of five-hit ball and had a career high-tying 10 strikeouts to lead the Orioles past the Washington Nationals 2-1 on Friday night.
Coming off a one-hit shutout against Atlanta, Hammel (8-2) allowed an unearned run in improving to 5-0 lifetime against Washington. He didn't top his outing against the Braves, but at least he built on it.
"It can't really get much better than that for me," Hammel said of his gem in Atlanta. "Obviously a no-hitter or a perfect game, but that didn't happen. I did basically the same thing, just come at them with two-seamers, aggressive in the zone, make them swing and put it in play."
Hammel, who did not issue a walk, has gone 19 straight innings without giving up an earned run.
"His outings the last two times out, and really most of the year, have been fun to watch," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "When you have command of that many pitches in your repertoire and you put him and (catcher Matt) Wieters on the same team, you like your chances. And he probably should have had eight shutout innings. He was outstanding."
Showalter removed Hammel after 96 pitches, ruining his chance to become the first Oriole to throw two straight complete games since Sidney Ponson in May 2004.
"I was surprised I didn't go back out in the ninth," Hammel said.
Jim Johnson got three outs for his 21st save.
"Hammel's leaking a little oil there toward the end," Showalter said. "You feel a lot more confident about turning a game over to someone like (Johnson)."
Hammel outpitched Washington's Ryan Zimmermann (3-6), who allowed two runs and eight hits over seven innings. Zimmerman is 0-2 in his last five starts since May 22.
"He's pitched great, we just haven't been scoring for him," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "We hit the ball hard today with runners on, got zilch."
Baltimore took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on a two-out RBI double by Hardy, who stepped to the plate mired in a 1-for-25 slump.
In the Washington seventh, with two on and two outs, Hardy leaped high to snare Jesus Flores' liner to shortstop.
"I jumped as high as I could and it just went into my mitt," said Hardy, who made a similar catch on Steve Lombardozzi's hard-hit ball in the eighth.
Davey Johnson last watched a game in the dugout at Camden Yards in 1997, when he guided the Orioles to the AL East title. He was fired after the season by owner Peter Angelos, and Baltimore hasn't had a winning season since.
"Managers are hired to get fired. All the times I was here were fun times for me," Johnson said before the game. "I really enjoyed playing here and learning the game of baseball here. It was fun to come back and manage in the town where I had played in. Played in a bunch of World Series here. My only regret was that I didn't get to manage the team in a World Series here. All my memories of Baltimore and baseball are nothing but great memories."
After the start was delayed 61 minutes by the threat of rain, Hammel pitched a perfect first inning and struck out the side in the second around a double by Michael Morse.
In the bottom of the second, Reynolds lined a 1-1 fastball into the seats in left to end an 0-for-11 skid.
It was one of precious few mistakes by Zimmermann, but it proved costly.
`I just try to keep the team in it as long as I can and stay out there as long as I can and save the bullpen," he said. "I didn't have my best stuff tonight, but it was good enough to get through seven."
Washington tied it in the fifth. Ian Desmond singled, rounded second base and took off for third on a groundout and scored on Reynolds' errant throw from first to third.
NOTES: The game drew a crowd of 45,891, the fourth sellout of the season at Camden Yards. ... Orioles LF Nolan Reimold will have neck surgery Monday and is likely lost for the season. He's been on the DL since May 4. ... Orioles RF Nick Markakis (hand) hasn't swung a bat since undergoing surgery three weeks ago, but says he expects to return to action before the All-Star break. .. Edwin Jackson (3-4) starts for Washington on Saturday against the Orioles, who will send rookie Wei-Yin Chen (7-2) to the mound. Chen is 4-0 at home but lost to the Nationals on the road last month.
Updated June 22, 2012