BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles went deep early and often to beat a team that knows all too well about pounding the opposition into submission.
Trey Mancini capped a three-homer binge in the first inning against Gio Gonzalez, and the Orioles beat the Washington Nationals 6-4 on Monday night for their season-high fifth straight victory.
The Nationals own the most potent offense in the majors, but on this night they were no match for the power-laden Orioles. Joey Rickard hit a leadoff homer and Mark Trumbo added a solo shot before Mancini connected with a runner on to make it 4-0, and Washington never recovered.
‘The only thing that beat us tonight was the long ball,” Gonzalez said. “If they take it, they’re strikes. The only one that was not a strike was Trumbo.”
And that one?
“Fastball over Trumbo’s head,” Gonzalez lamented. “Maybe throw it at the backstop, they’ll swing at those.”
After the Orioles let a six-run cushion shrink to three, Brad Brach worked the ninth for his eighth save. After Brach gave up a one-out RBI double to former Oriole Matt Wieters, pinch-runner Trea Turner strayed too far from second base on a groundout to first and the game ended with a rundown in which Adam Lind was tagged out between third and home.
“It was a miscommunication,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said.
Kevin Gausman (2-3) allowed two runs over seven innings. He retired the first 10 batters and struck out eight in his longest outing of the year.
“It was just good to go out there and feel like myself,” Gausman said. “Good command of the fastball, and being able to throw it anywhere I wanted to.”
Caleb Joseph had a career high-tying four hits for the Orioles. Baltimore (21-10) owns the second-best record in the majors behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees.
Bryce Harper homered and drove in two runs for the Nationals, who lead the majors in runs, hits and batting average.
The Orioles now hold a 37-24 advantage over their neighboring rivals in the so-called “Beltway Series,” which began in 2006.
Gonzalez (3-1) came in with a National League-leading 1.64 ERA for the team with the best record in the NL. None of that mattered to Baltimore, which took the lead for good when Rickard sent the left-hander’s fourth pitch into the left-field seats.
“Early, he was not hitting his spots,” Baker said of Gonzalez. “He was supposed to throw one ball away and it was in. Another pitch was supposed to be in and it got away. He settled down after the number of home runs they hit in that inning.”
Gonzalez made it through the sixth and gave up six runs — one fewer than his previous six starts combined. His poor outing upped his ERA to 2.64 and dropped his career record against Baltimore to 1-6.
Wieters suited up in the visitor’s clubhouse at Camden Yards for the first time after spending eight seasons with the Orioles.
The four-time All-Star catcher, who signed with Washington as a free agent in February, was given a standing ovation before his first at-bat.
Of his return, he said, “It’s a good feeling coming in today and getting to walk into the yard. Definitely brought a smile to my face, and I’m excited for being able to play here again.”
Washington recalled OF Brian Goodwin from Triple-A Syracuse and optioned OF Rafael Bautista to the same club.
Nationals: Harper (groin) returned after missing the last three games. … INF Stephen Drew (hamstring), out since mid-April, will likely begin a rehab assignment over the weekend.
Orioles: 2B Jonathan Schoop was back in the lineup after sitting out two games with a swollen hand, the result of a HBP on Friday night. … C Francisco Pena declared himself at “100 percent” after being removed from Sunday’s game with cramps in his forearm and hand.
Nationals: Max Scherzer (4-2, 2.66 ERA) starts Tuesday night. He pitched eight shutout innings and struck out 11 last August against Baltimore.
Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1, 6.58) makes his sixth start after pitching out of the bullpen in Boston last week following the ejection of Gausman.
Follow 106.7 The Fan on Twitter
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)