Orioles hold off Nats, snap five-game skid

Orioles 5, Nationals 4

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After about as poor an outing as a closer can have, Chris Ray was forced to wait nearly a week for another chance to pitch.

When that call finally arrived, he managed to come through.

Ray put runners on the corners in the ninth inning and then got Ryan Zimmerman to fly out on a full-count pitch to seal a save, helping the Baltimore Orioles snap a five-game losing streak by holding on to beat the Washington Nationals 5-4 on Friday night.

"I always want to get back out there, especially if something bad happens," said Ray, who earned his ninth save in 12 chances. "I want to get back out there as soon as I can and get back out on the mound and have success."

Brian Roberts tied a career high with four hits, and Steve Trachsel (2-3) won for the first time in five starts.

A road game that felt like a home game did the trick for the Orioles, who entered the day 12-8 at home and 6-15 away -- including a 1-5 start to their current nine-game road swing. Some Orioles drove their cars and others took a team bus for the roughly 35-mile ride south from Baltimore to Washington for the start of interleague play.

Baltimore built leads of 3-0 and 5-2 in support of Trachsel, who allowed two runs and four hits over 5 2/3 innings.

But Zimmerman's two-run homer off Danys Baez in the eighth cut the hosts' deficit to one run, setting up Ray's tenuous ninth. Ray hadn't appeared in a game since Sunday, when he helped Baltimore blow a 5-0 lead in the ninth inning of a 6-5 loss at Boston.

In that game, Ray gave up three runs on three hits and two walks while getting just one out; he also was charged with an error for dropping a throw on the final play of the game, allowing two runs to score.

Was that on his mind Friday?

"I only think about the current day," Ray said. "I don't think about yesterday, I don't think about tomorrow."

This time, he walked the leadoff batter, Nook Logan, who stole second. Logan, though, stayed put on the next batter's groundout, which was fielded by Ray.

"He just froze. Didn't make a good decision. He's human," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "Just got to go on that play, especially with his speed."

Logan's explanation?

"I just didn't read the ball good off the bat," he said. "I was in scoring position. If I wasn't for sure, I wasn't going to go. And I wasn't for sure."

Ray got another groundout for the second out, and Logan advanced to third that time. Not one to make things easy, Ray walked Cristian Guzman, putting the go-ahead run on base as Zimmerman strode to the plate.

"That's our big hope, right there," Acta said.

Zimmerman worked the count to 3-2 and was looking for a fastball. Ray threw a slider -- "He made a good pitch," Zimmerman said -- and the ball sailed pretty much right to outfielder Freddie Bynum.

"We have full confidence in Chris," Roberts said. "He has full confidence in himself."

Nine of the Orioles' 11 hits were singles, and they kept chipping away. They scored one run in the fourth on Jay Payton's sacrifice fly and two in the fifth off starter Jason Simontacchi (1-2) on Nick Markakis' RBI double and Kevin Millar's RBI single.

Baltimore tacked on two more in the eighth, charged to Saul Rivera, on Corey Patterson's sacrifice fly and Roberts' RBI single.

"We seem to get some hits but don't get the runs," Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said. "Fortunately, we were able to bunch them together tonight."

Washington did all of its scoring with two-run homers: Dmitri Young hit his off Trachsel in the sixth. Young was making his first start since May 7. He'd been limited to occasional pinch-hitting duty since then because of a left Achilles' tendon injury, but Young went to Acta on Thursday and asked to return to the lineup.

Still, thanks to Ray's late work, Washington's power wasn't enough, and Baltimore won for the first time in its past four one-run games.

"We needed to win a one-run game," Roberts said. "We've been in a lot of them and haven't been able to pull them out."

Game notes
RFK Stadium was not quite half full, with an announced attendance of 22,375. ... Washington had won six of its previous seven games. ... It's the eighth time Roberts had four hits in a game. He had three singles and a double. In Baltimore's last game, Wednesday at Toronto, he went 0-for-4 to end a 14-game hitting streak.