Washington Nationals starter Edwin Jackson walked the first batter he faced on Friday night. The third batter doubled, and the cleanup hitter singled in a run.
It was hardly a way to begin what would become among Jackson’s most commanding starts this season, yet that’s exactly how it ended when he left the game after eight innings and 95 pitches during a 2-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night at Nationals Park.
During five of his final seven innings, Jackson retired the side in order. He finished with eight strikeouts, allowed five hits and walked one in lowering his ERA to 3.31 before watching reliever Ryan Mattheus surrender an 11th inning homer to Nick Markakis that was the difference.
“I was just able to come out and locate pitches when I needed to,” Jackson said. “Having great defense behind you, it always makes the game a little easier.”
The offensive support, however, was virtually non-existent behind Jackson, who has no-decisions in six of eight starts this season. He’s yielded three runs or fewer in five of those outings, and he’s pitched at least five innings in every start.
In the Nationals most recent trip, Jackson started twice and left each game with the lead. Washington was one out from winning each time but gave up game-ending homers.
“Like I said a thousand times, offense comes and goes,” Jackson said when asked about his teammates’ lack of production. “More times than not, if we keep pitching the way we’re pitching, we’ll win more games. Theses guys here, they practice real hard, and everybody’s out there having the best ABs they can.”
The Nationals managed one extra-base hit against the Orioles, that coming on Ian Desmond’s sixth-inning homer to tie the score at 1. It was the sixth time this season Washington has scored one run or been shutout.
“Through nine innings or so, I think we hit one ball hard,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “We had chances. A game like that’s frustrating. That was a tough one. [Jackson] pitched good. I thought the bullpen pitched good. One pitch, ballgame.”