WASHINGTON -- With Orioles sluggers Chris Davis and Nelson Cruz struggling, veteran Delmon Young has been getting more playing time in the second half of the season.
Without a designated hitter available in Monday's interleague makeup game at Nationals Park, though, Young was back on the bench -- where he might be an even more dangerous weapon.
In the Orioles' 7-3 win against the Nationals, Young had a huge pinch-hit single in a three-run seventh inning that gave his club a lead it never relinquished.
The Orioles (63-48) won three of four games against the Nationals (60-50) this season, albeit with the other three being played nearly a month earlier. Monday's game, before an announced sellout of 42,181, was the makeup from the July 8 rainout and wiped out an Orioles day off on their way to Toronto.
Based on the results, the extra day of work was worth it for the Orioles, who moved to four games ahead of the idle Blue Jays heading into a three-game series that starts Tuesday.
For six innings, the Nationals clung to a lead as the Orioles could manage just two solo homers against tough Washington right-hander Tanner Roark.
In the seventh, J.J. Hardy and Ryan Flaherty hit consecutive doubles to tie the game at 3. After a sacrifice bunt moved Flaherty to third base, Young pinch-hit for pitcher Kevin Gausman and singled to center field to break the tie and chase Roark (11-7).
It was the ninth pinch-hit and fourth RBI for Young in 17 at-bats off the bench this season (.529 average). With roughly two months to play, Young is already tied with the seventh-most pinch-hits in an Orioles season since the statistics were kept in 1974. The last time an Orioles player had at least nine pinch-hits in a season was Jeff Conine in 1999. Terry Crowley holds the record with 13 in 1978.
Young later scored the Orioles' fifth run in the seventh on a bases-loaded RBI single by Adam Jones. Catcher Caleb Joseph, who had homered earlier, added a two-run single in the eighth inning to put the game out of reach. The Orioles, who had 14 hits Monday, had scored just six runs in their past four games before scoring seven Monday night.
Gausman (6-3) battled against the Nationals, putting a runner on base in all six innings he pitched. He continually wiggled out of jams and got some help from his defense, including a nice stab of a hard grounder by Davis with runners on the corners to end the sixth.
The Orioles' impressive rookie allowed one run in three consecutive innings: a homer to Wilson Ramos in the second, a sacrifice fly by Denard Span in the third, and, in the fourth, Bryce Harper scored on a double play by Ramos.
Gausman lasted six innings, giving up three runs, eight hits and two walks. It was his third straight quality start and sixth in 11 outings this season.
The Orioles gave Gausman the lead as soon as he was removed from the game for the pinch-hitting Young.
Up until that point, Roark had pitched fairly well, allowing two runs on solo homers by Joseph in the third and Nick Markakis in the fifth. It was Markakis' 10th homer of the season and second in two games and Joseph's fifth home run and second in three days.
Roark was ultimately charged with five earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, the most he has allowed in one start since May 3. The 27-year-old right-hander entered Monday on a four-game winning streak.
The Orioles are now 11-4 since the All-Star break.
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