WASHINGTON -- Adam Jones flashed talent during his first four seasons with the Orioles that suggested he could be a star. So far this season, Baltimore's center fielder appears to be putting it all together.
Jones continued his consistent play with three hits and his 14th home run, Nick Markakis added a two-run homer and the Orioles matched a season high with their fifth straight win, 6-5 over the Washington Nationals on Saturday night.
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If you ever need evidence that player development isn't linear, look no further than Adam Jones, writes Matt Meyers. Blog
The AL East leaders improved to 15-5 on the road. Washington lost its third in a row.Jones has an 11-game hitting streak. In the season's first 41 games, Jones also has two 10-game stretches and he's reached base safely in all but four games.The Orioles are 13-1 when he homers."Early in the year, with men in scoring position, I was rushing. I had strikeouts, popouts with men in scoring position. I needed to back away from it, and let the ball come to me and see the ball. Lately, I've been trying to see the ball, use my hands and not really try to think too much about the play because thinking, hitters are never supposed to think," Jones said.With four homers in his past five games, Jones is on a pace to hit more than 50."That would be awesome," Jones said. "My main mission every time I step into that box is hit this ball as hard as you can hit it."Manager Buck Showalter, who evened his record as Baltimore's manager at 130-130 with the win, loves to talk about Jones."He's that type of talent and he's in a good place mentally. He's slowed the game down some, but at the same time, he's letting it rip every time he gets an opportunity to help his team," Showalter said.The Orioles took a 6-0 lead in the fifth and barely held on. Robert Andino had a two-run single in the second, Jones a two-run home run in the third and Markakis a two-run homer in the fifth -- all off Ross Detwiler (3-3).Jason Hammel (5-1) pitched 5 1/3 innings for the win, allowing four runs and six hits. Baltimore relievers Luis Ayala, Troy Patton and Pedro Strop combined for 2 2/3 scoreless innings.Orioles closer Jim Johnson allowed a two-out home run in the ninth to Ryan Zimmerman, who had three hits. But Johnson struck out Adam LaRoche for his 15th save in as many chances this year, and his 23rd straight.Hammel has been dealing with a sore right knee. It delayed his previous start by four days. On Monday, Hammel struggled through five innings, allowing four earned runs and seven hits.He didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning, gave up a run in the fifth and three in the sixth."I get to a certain point now where its almost like I'm pitching on one leg and transfer everything to the arm. I got one out further than last time, I guess, so thats good," Hammel said."We've just got to get the leg stronger, but I'm definitely hitting the fatigue stage."Washington scored a run in the fifth on three straight two-out singles, and drove Hammel out of the game in the sixth when Rick Ankiel hit an RBI double.After Hammel left the game, the Nationals' third run scored on an infield out and the fourth on Roger Bernadina's RBI single."He was a tough cookie. It took us a while," Washington manager Davey Johnson said.Detwiler gave up six runs and nine hits in five innings, the first time a Nationals starter gave up six runs since Sept. 10, 2011."I put the team in a hole early and they did a great job trying to dig out. Its just too much, really," Detwiler said.
Johnson said that when RHP Chien-Ming Wang finishes his rehab assignment, he'll likely pitch him in the bullpen. Wang, who's on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring, was projected as a starter, but the emergence of Detwiler makes his addition to the starting rotation sticky. "I don't look at him as a reliever. I look at him as a quality, major league starter," Johnson said. ... Miguel Tejada, who signed a minor league contract with Baltimore earlier this month, will report to Triple-A Norfolk. Tejada, who had two prior stints with the Orioles, was in extended spring training in Sarasota, Fla. ... The crowd of 42,331 was the second largest in Nationals Park history. ... The Orioles will send Wei-Yin Chen (4-0) against the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg (3-1) on Sunday.