WASHINGTON — After working out of the bullpen the last month, Baltimore’s Ubaldo Jimenez was given a spot start Thursday night against Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer.
He held up his end of the matchup.
Jimenez surrendered just one run over six innings, but Scherzer allowed only two hits in eight innings and the Nationals tacked on three late runs against the Orioles bullpen for a 4-0 victory.
With Chris Tillman on the disabled list with right shoulder bursitis, Jimenez stepped in and gave Baltimore a chance to sweep the four-game home-and-home set, allowing five hits and striking out four batters without a walk.
“He was great,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Almost took him out after the fifth, but he said he felt good and wanted to go there. We needed those six innings.”
Jimenez (5-11) made his last start on July 28 and since then has worked three times in relief. His only blemish Thursday night was Jayson Werth’s homer leading off the fourth.
“I was able to command the fastball, throw the breaking balls behind in the count,” Jimenez said. “So everything was good.”
Bryce Harper’s two-run double capped a three-run eighth for Washington, one night after they struck for a five-run ninth.
“We’re still having trouble pitching that last inning. It’s been a challenge for us,” Showalter said. “Ubaldo kept us in the game. There’s a game there to be won if we can keep it at 1-0.”
Scherzer (14-7) struck out 10 and did not walk a batter. He retired 12 straight after Adam Jones’s fourth-inning double and 21 of 22 before Mark Trumbo’s leadoff single in the eighth.
Daniel Murphy’s RBI double in the eighth came before Harper’s second hit helped Washington pull away.
The Nationals had lost four straight including three in a row to the Orioles, who won twice in Baltimore before the teams shifted to Washington.
Trumbo stole second base with two outs in the eighth, but J.J. Hardy flied out to deep center field on Scherzer’s 95th and final pitch. Mark Melancon allowed one hit in the ninth.
“Good series for us,” Jones said. “We took it to a good team. Tonight they took it to us, but I think overall it was a good series.”
Scherzer won his second straight start, but was far more dominant than in each of his two previous outings when he allowed eight runs and struck out nine.
The right-hander retired the first nine batters and struck out two in each of the first three innings. Scherzer recorded his 47th game — 11th this season — with at least 10 strikeouts.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, especially attacking the strike zone, getting strike one,” Jones said. “And once he gets two strikes he knows how to put you away.”
Scherzer helped his own cause defensively in the fifth without seeing the ball. With his back facing home plate, Scherzer fielded a comebacker hit by Jonathan Schoop between his legs and threw him out at first base.
After Jones was left stranded, Werth hammered the first pitch of the fourth over the wall in center field for his 17th homer.
Harper singled in the fourth and stole his 18th base, matching his career-high.
SUFFERING AGAINST SCHERZER
Manny Machado went hitless in four at-bats and 0 for 3 against Scherzer, falling to 1 of 18 all-time in the head-to-head matchup. Machado struck out with Jones on third and one out in the fourth.
Orioles: Jones left after eight innings with a hamstring cramp, but said he’ll be in the lineup Friday night against the Yankees. … Showalter said Tillman will throw on flat ground Monday or Tuesday.
Orioles: Yovani Gallardo (4-5, 5.08) and Yankees RHP Luis Cessa (3-0, 4.01 ERA) open the three-game series in New York.
Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez (8-9, 4.30) faces Rockies RHP Jeff Hoffman (0-1, 13.50) in the first of three games against Colorado.