<
>

Orioles-Nationals preview

WASHINGTON -- For the second time in four days, a right-handed pitcher with 15 wins will be scratched from making a start in the Beltway Series.

Baltimore ace Chris Tillman (15-5, 3.76 ERA) was slated to start against the Washington Nationals in the finale of the two-city, four-game series.

But Tillman went on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with right shoulder bursitis. That came after Washington right-hander Stephen Strasburg was pulled from making a start Monday in Baltimore as he went on the DL with elbow concerns.

The Orioles will start Ubaldo Jimenz on Thursday against Washington right-hander Max Scherzer, who is 13-7 with a 3.05 ERA. Jimenez is 5-10 with a 6.94 ERA in 22 games (18 starts).

"We think he is the best option," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Jimenez, who began the season in the rotation but was removed due to ineffectiveness. "Everyone has a choice. A lot of things factor in.

"He's probably the most equipped. He's pitched well here and against these guys. We looked at our options and felt like he was worthy of getting another opportunity. Actually, it probably makes our bullpen work a little better, too, the other four days."

Have the Orioles considered using Vance Worley, a long reliever, as a starter this year?

"A guy who can give you long innings in the American League is extremely important. It allows you to keep your bullpen healthy," Showalter said. "And when you don't have a maneuverable bullpen with options and stuff, you've got to do it from within."

Jimenez was signed to a four-year contract as a free agent prior to the 2014 season.

"He hasn't started for us in a long time," Showalter said. "We felt he was the one."

It will be a tough test against Scherzer, who may be want to be careful against Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones.

Jones is 11-for-22 against the right-hander, and three of those hits are home runs. Scherzer is 8-3 with a 2.32 ERA in his last 15 starts and is 4-2, 3.81 in eight career starts against the Orioles.

Jimenez doesn't have much of a track record against Washington hitters.

Ben Revere is hitting .333 in 12 at-bats against the right-hander while Daniel Murphy is 3-for-11 with one homer. Revere did not start Wednesday in a 10-8 loss to the Orioles but came off the bench and hit a pinch-hit double to left in the seventh.

Chris Davis is hitting .381 with one homer in 21 at-bats against Scherzer.

Jimenez will have to deal with Washington center fielder Trea Turner, who had singles in his first four at-bats Wednesday to give him eight hits in a row. That tied a Montreal/Washington franchise record as Andre Dawson had eight hits in a row in 1983 for the Expos. He also made a diving catch for the first out of the game on the warning track in center.

"That was big. He just outran that ball," Washington manager Dusty Baker said. "Trea's been playing great. He had a great night at the plate. He's also a very determined young man. That determination and youthful exuberance I think has rubbed off on the team."

Turner was finally retired for the first out in the top of the ninth Wednesday. Later in the inning, Murphy hit a grand slam to make it 10-7 and Anthony Rendon had an RBI double to make it 10-8 before Zach Britton got the final two outs to nail down the win.

The Nationals have lost four straight.

"Physical puts wear and tear on your body and mental puts wear and tear on your mind," Baker said. "If you're body's weak and your mind is strong, that makes your body strong. Like I said, these guys showed a lot of mental strength tonight because they could have just rolled over and just wrote the game off, but they didn't. We were a hit away from walking away with that game, and that would have been probably one of the greatest comebacks of all-time because I talk to them all the time about the old comeback, and that was almost the old comeback, so we'll get there."