Nationals-Orioles Preview

The Washington Nationals have dealt with a limited offense all

season. The last two games their ability to score has been

non-existent.

Jason Marquis hasn’t experienced those troubles, and Jake

Arrieta and the Baltimore Orioles would like to make sure they

continue.

Marquis and Arrieta are slated to start opposite each other as

the Nationals and Orioles meet in the opener of the Beltway Series

on Friday night at Camden Yards.

Washington (20-23) is last in the majors with a .223 average and

ranks near the bottom with 3.41 runs per game.

The Nationals have dropped five of their last seven games, three

by shutouts. They failed to score in two straight losses to the New

York Mets, falling 1-0 on Thursday as they mustered three hits

after being no-hit into the sixth inning by rookie Dillon Gee.

“We put this team together. We were confident in this team and

it’s a facet of the game,” manager Jim Riggleman told the team’s

official website. “It’s a big area of the game. … There are a lot

of other areas in the game that we are playing so well. We believe

this group is going to hit.”

Washington hasn’t had trouble backing Marquis (5-1, 3.54 ERA),

who has won his last two starts with a 3.21 ERA while getting seven

runs of support in each contest.

The right-hander capitalized on another big offensive

performance Sunday, allowing four runs – two earned – in 6 2-3

innings of an 8-4 win over Florida, as the Nationals equaled their

highest scoring effort of the season.

Marquis is 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA in three games versus the

Orioles. He lost his only start against them with the Chicago Cubs

on June 26, 2008, surrendering seven runs in four innings.

The Nationals dropped four of six to Baltimore last year,

getting swept in a three-game set at Camden Yards.

“I like interleague play,” said Jerry Hairston, an Oriole from

1998-2004. “It definitely breaks up the monotony of a long season.

It gives the fans an opportunity to see different teams they don’t

normally see at their ballpark or on the road.”

The Orioles have won seven of the last nine at home versus

Washington, but they’re on a three-game skid after losing 13-2 to

the New York Yankees on Thursday. They’ve dropped four in a row

already this month, and are 10-13 at home this season.

Arrieta (5-1, 4.03) looks to match his win total as a rookie

last year.

The right-hander is 4-0 with a 2.75 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 36

innings while holding opponents to a .194 average over his last six

starts.

Arrieta was solid again Sunday, yielding two runs and four hits

while fanning seven in six innings of a 9-3 win at Tampa Bay. It

was his third consecutive start where he’s completed at least six

innings.

“Hopefully, he’ll get to a point where he can kind of maximize

his pitches a little bit more and get deeper,” manager Buck

Showalter told the team’s official website.

Arrieta went 1-1 with a 6.91 ERA in three interleague starts

last season. One of those outings came against Washington on June

25, when he allowed six runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 7-6 home

win.

The Nationals haven’t been shut out in three straight games

since April 13-15, 2004, when they were the Montreal Expos.