WASHINGTON -- While his teammates savored a comeback victory, Washington Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan stood in front of his locker, ready to accept blame for an inexcusable error in judgment that drew jeers from the home crowd.
Although Morgan's lapse led to an inside-the-park homer by Baltimore's Adam Jones, the Nationals used a four-run sixth inning to beat the Orioles 7-6 Saturday and even the so-called "Battle of the Beltways" interleague series at a game apiece.On an afternoon filled with offensive highlights, the most memorable was the second inside-the-park homer in the three-year history of Nationals Park -- and the second in four days.With a runner on in the fourth inning, Jones hit a drive to deep center that sent Morgan to the base of the wall. The ball hit Morgan's glove and bounced out, and Morgan immediately went into a tirade. While the ball lay behind him, Morgan removed his mitt, slammed it on the ground and stomped angrily on the outfield grass.Left fielder Josh Willingham retrieved the ball, but too late to prevent Jones from circling the bases for Baltimore's first inside-the-park home run since David Newhan at Boston on July 21, 2004."I went back for the ball, leaped up and I thought the ball went over the fence," Morgan said. "I guess it didn't, and it was standing right there. ... My emotions got to me there, because I knew I should have had the ball."On Wednesday, Angel Pagan of the New York Mets hit an inside-the-park homer when Morgan botched an attempted leaping catch in center.This time, many of the 30,290 voiced their disapproval."The boo birds were out there, definitely. It was a thing where they had every opportunity to boo me," Morgan said.The jeers continued when Morgan came to the plate in the bottom of the inning, an at-bat that almost didn't happen."My first instinct was to take him out of the ballgame, and then I realized ... he thought he knocked it over the fence and it's a home run and he's showing frustration," manager Jim Riggleman said. "That doesn't excuse it -- and I don't want it to be perceived as an excuse -- but it explains it."Riggleman added: "He made a human error. He didn't not hustle. He didn't do ... a horrible thing. He made a terrible mistake, but it wasn't malicious."Jones made the most of it, hustling right out of the batter's box and never letting up."Morgan missed the ball, and I seen it get away from him and I seen him mad," Jones said. "He threw his glove down, and I kept running."Jones' home run gave Baltimore a 4-2 lead, but the Orioles couldn't hold on despite getting a homer and four RBIs from Ty Wigginton.Washington trailed 6-3 before rallying in the sixth against starter Brad Bergesen and reliever Mark Hendrickson (1-2). After Roger Bernadina tripled in a run and pinch-hitter Alberto Gonzalez added an RBI single, Adam Dunn lined a two-run single up the middle to give the Nationals their first lead in the three-game series that concludes Sunday.Willingham homered for the Nationals, who won for the second time in nine games to get back to .500 (22-22) for the ninth time this season.Tyler Walker (1-0) got the final two outs in the top of the sixth, and Matt Capps worked the ninth for his major league-leading 16th save in 16 tries.Wigginton put the Orioles ahead in the first inning with a two-out, two-run single. It was a typical appearance for Washington's Craig Stammen, who has held the opposition scoreless through two innings only twice in nine starts this season.Washington loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom half before Ivan Rodriguez flied out. Rodriguez left the game two innings later with a lower back strain and is expected to miss a few games.Wigginton hit a two-run shot in the sixth.
Wearing a Nationals jersey, actor Zach Galifianakis shouted "Play Ball!" over the PA system before the first pitch. ... Washington first base coach Dan Radison was ejected after the fourth inning for disputing what he thought was a balk. ... The Orioles need a victory Sunday to earn their first road series win in 11 tries since Sept. 11-13, 2009, against the New York Yankees.