Nationals 8, Orioles 3

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WASHINGTON (AP) – Alfonso Soriano homered for the third straight game and drove in three runs to lead the Washington Nationals over the Baltimore Orioles 8-3 Saturday night.

Ryan Zimmerman scored the tiebreaking run during Washington’s four-run sixth inning on an errant pickoff throw by catcher Ramon Hernandez, helping the Nationals to their fourth win in 15 games at RFK Stadium.

With the game tied at 3, the Nationals rallied against Rodrigo Lopez (1-7). Zimmerman singled with one out and went to third on Alex Escobar’s hit-and-run single to left.

Lopez’s first pitch to pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson was a ball, and Hernandez threw wildly to third trying to get Zimmerman. The ball sailed into left field, allowing Zimmerman to score and Escobar to move to second.

Anderson followed with a run-scoring single to make it 5-3 and Julio Manon relieved Lopez. Manon walked Wiki Gonzalez and hit pinch-hitter Damian Jackson with a pitch to load the bases, then walked Soriano on a 3-2 pitch to force in a run.

Kurt Birkins replaced Manon and gave up a sacrifice fly to Jose Vidro, making it 7-3.

Jon Rauch (1-1) worked a scoreless sixth for the win.

Lopez, whose only victory came on opening day, failed to win for the ninth straight start. He allowed six runs and eight hits, walked one and struck out one.

The Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the second when Zimmerman led off with a double, moved to third on Escobar’s groundout and scored on Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly.

Baltimore scored twice in the third inning. After walks to Brandon Fahey and Miguel Tejada, Jay Gibbons hit a run-scoring single to center with one out. Both runners advanced on Escobar’s wild throw home for an error, and Tejada scored on Hernandez’s bouncer to shortstop.

Kevin Millar’s bloop single to right-center scored Tejada, who had drawn a leadoff walk, for a 3-1 lead in the fifth.

Soriano’s two-run homer in the fifth tied the game. With two outs, pinch-hitter Robert Fick singled and Soriano hit Lopez’s 0-1 pitch over the left-field wall for his 15th homer. It was his fifth homer in seven games.

Nationals starter Tony Armas went five innings, giving up three runs – two earned – and seven hits. He walked a season-high five and struck out one.

Notes: Escobar made his Nationals debut after being recalled from Double-A Harrisburg on Friday night. OF Ryan Church was optioned to Harrisburg. … Baltimore OF Corey Patterson had two infield hits, including his sixth bunt single of the season.

AP-ES-05-20-06 2218EDT

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