Orioles lose another early lead, fall to Nationals, 6-5, for sixth straight defeat: ‘We’ve got to figure out a way to get better’

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A difficult stretch for the Orioles continued Sunday when they scored early and often but lost their lead just as quickly and eventually ceded the deciding run on a bases-loaded walk in the middle innings.

A 6-5 loss to the Washington Nationals before an announced 14,618 at Nationals Park consigned the Orioles to a six-game losing streak and, with 13 losses in their past 15 games, dropped them to 17-29. With each defeat, frustration grows.

“I don’t think any of us like to lose, but I personally hate it,” starting pitcher Matt Harvey said. “I think it sucks right now. We’ve got to figure out a way to be better. When we score runs, we’re not keeping runs off the board ourselves, so we have to be better as a whole and I take responsibility for that and myself, the way I’ve been pitching. It’s just unacceptable. Have to be better.”

Harvey was heartened some by pitching into the fifth inning, but had plenty to lament otherwise. He came to the mound in the home half of the first inning with a 3-0 lead after a textbook, opposite-field approach from the Orioles against left-hander Patrick Corbin helped them send eight batters to the plate and get run-scoring hits from Trey Mancini, Anthony Santander and Maikel Franco.

A day after they scored five runs in the first in an eventual 12-9 loss, three runs early didn’t guarantee anything. Harvey allowing four runs on mostly hard contact after a leadoff swinging bunt, including a two-run home run by Kyle Schwarber, calcified the feeling that no amount of offense is sufficient for these Orioles to sit back and relax.

But both Corbin and Harvey calmed down as the game progressed, and the Orioles tied the game on a sacrifice fly by Franco in the top of the third. But trailing 5-4 in the fifth, Freddy Galvis’ two-out error extended the inning and eventually led to the Nationals’ sixth run when Harvey allowed a single and Cole Susler walked the first two batters he faced out of the bullpen.

The Orioles got a run back in the seventh, and three combined scoreless innings from Paul Fry and César Valdez kept it close, but Santander struck out with two on and two out in the ninth.

Bad bunt

Manager Brandon Hyde didn’t mince words about how that ninth inning arrived to Santander with two outs. Stevie Wilkerson led off with a single and leadoff man Austin Hays bunted him over, giving the Nationals the first out. Galvis eventually flew out without Wilkerson being able to advance, and Washington intentionally walked Mancini to get to Santander.

Asked if he supported the bunt, Hyde said: “No, I don’t. No, absolutely, 100% no.”

It’s the second time the manager has disagreed with a top-of-the-order hitter giving away an out this season after Santander did so April 11 against Boston. The next day, Hyde said he should have been looking to drive the baseball instead.

Harvey settles in

After allowing weak contact in a pair of bad outings the last two times out, Harvey looked to be on that track early when Trea Turner reached on a dribbler to open the game and came around to score because of some slack Orioles defense. But the contact was hard the rest of the inning, including Schwarber’s two-run home run that erased the early lead.

But after that four-run first inning, Harvey settled in. He allowed a small-ball run in the fourth after Alex Avila came around to score following a leadoff double, and would have been through five innings if not for Galvis’ error.

Harvey struck out a season-high six batters while allowing six runs (five earned) on nine hits, with his ERA climbing to 6.31.

“His fastball velo was really good,” Hyde said. “He did a nice job after that first inning. I was hoping he could get through that fifth, but we were pretty sloppy defensively also, once again, when he pitched. That didn’t help him out in some areas. But he did compete and he was close when he left.”

Trey scores two more

Early and late, the Orioles continued to benefit from Mancini being one of the league’s most productive hitters. He had a run-scoring single in the first inning and grounded out to first with a runner on third to drive in his league-high 41st run.

Mancini had two hits, raising his batting average to .280. His OPS

Around the horn

Left-hander Brandon Waddell, who was claimed off waivers from the Minnesota Twins earlier this month, was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to add a fresh arm to the bullpen. He replaced Travis Lakins Sr., who was optioned to Norfolk. … Right-hander Hunter Harvey allowed two runs in two innings in his first rehab assignment at Norfolk.

ORIOLES@TWINS

Monday, 7:40 p.m.

TV: MASN Radio: 105.7 FM

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