Belliard’s blast gives Nats a win over the Orioles

Published 7:35 am Monday, June 30, 2008

By By Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Nationals have not treated their fans to many victories at their new ballpark this season. When they win, though, it’s often a spectacular show.
Ronnie Belliard hit a two-run homer in the 12th inning to give Washington a 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday in front of 39,824 — the largest crowd in the three-month history of Nationals Park.
Of Washington’s 18 home wins, eight have come in the final at-bat.
The Orioles took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 12th on Adam Jones’ single.
George Sherrill (2-3) retired the first two batters in the bottom half. But he walked pinch-hitter Dmitri Young, Washington’s last available position player.
Belliard then drove a 1-2 slider for his sixth homer of the year into the left-field stands. Belliard’s hit snapped an 0-for-13 slump.
Sherrill thought his 0-2 pitch had touched the black and that he had recorded a game-ending strikeout, but Belliard backed off. A moment later, Sherrill, who hadn’t pitched in five days, blew his fourth save in 30 chances.
Young was impressed with Belliard’s homer: ‘‘It was a very mental at-bat. … Cerebral.’’
Baltimore ended interleague play with an 11-7 record — tied for its best in history.
Manager Dave Trembley thought the Orioles, who split their six games with the Nationals could have won all three games this weekend — instead of just one.
Joel Hanrahan (5-2), the Nationals’ sixth pitcher, relieved with runners on first and second and two outs in the 12th and allowed Jones’ go-ahead single. He then retired Guillermo Quiroz to end the inning and set the stage for another thrilling win.
The Nationals scored in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Roger Bernadina singled in his first major league at-bat. He moved to second when Cristian Guzman was hit by a pitch by Jeremy Guthrie. Elijah Dukes walked to load the bases, and Bernadina scored on an infield out by Aaron Boone.
After Jason Bergmann had shut the Orioles out for the first six innings, Luke Scott drove a ball into the right-center field stands for his 14th home run of the year — his second in two games — to tie the score at 1.
Bergmann is winless in his last eight starts. He last won on May 15 when he pitched seven shutout innings against the New York Mets, allowing just three hits. Since then, he’s lost four games and pitched to four no-decisions. Bergmann gave up one run and six hits in seven innings.
While Bergmann hasn’t won since May 15, he’s watched lots of dramatic endings.
Guthrie allowed four hits in seven innings. He walked three, struck out four and hit a batter. In four career starts against Washington, he’s allowed just four earned runs in 28 innings for a 1.29 ERA, but has won just once with three no-decisions.
Guthrie also had his first major league hit — a fifth-inning double, but he was quickly picked off.
Notes: Baltimore lost for the 12th consecutive Sunday. They’re now 1-12 on Sundays overall. … LHP Adam Loewen told Trembley that he’s ready to return to the team. Loewen has been on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder soreness since April 25. Trembley said he would confer with team president Andy MacPhail before activating him. …The Nationals signed two draft choices, OF J.R. Higley (9th round) and RHP Christopher Kelley (24th round). …Washington Manager Manny Acta said that 3B Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list with a tear in his left shoulder since May 26, is improving and has begun lifting weights and should soon begin to take batting practice. … The Nationals used four left fielders: Wily Mo Pena, Willie Harris, Kory Casto and Paul Lo Duca.