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Hernandez lifts O's in ninth after three hours of rain delays

BALTIMORE (AP) -- After enduring two rain delays totaling nearly
three hours, the last thing Ramon Hernandez wanted to do was put on
his catcher's gear in the 10th inning.

So he made certain the game didn't get that far.

Hernandez singled in the winning run with two outs in the ninth,
giving the Baltimore Orioles a 3-2 victory over the punchless
Washington Nationals on Saturday.

"It was a long day. It's good to come out on top," Orioles
starter Adam Loewen said. "You lose, and it feels like a waste of
time."

The end came close to six hours after the first pitch, and only
five minutes after play resumed following a stoppage of 2 hours, 18
minutes.

The game was halted a second time with the Orioles ready to bat
in the ninth.

When the tarp was finally removed, Chad Cordero (2-3) walked
Luis Matos. After a sacrifice by Brian Roberts and an intentional
walk to Melvin Mora, Miguel Tejada hit a fly ball to left.
Hernandez then hit a liner between short and third, and Matos
scored without a throw.

"Everybody was tired and stiff," said Hernandez, who also
homered. "I know one thing: I didn't want to go back to catch. I
got lucky, I hit it where nobody was playing."

By game's end, only a few hundred people were left from the
crowd of 36,920.

Javy Lopez got three hits for Baltimore, including the 1,500th
of his career. The milestone hit came in the eighth, the second
straight inning in which the Orioles failed to score after loading
the bases.

Todd Williams (2-3) pitched two scoreless innings for Baltimore.

Jose Vidro had two hits and scored a run for the Nationals, who
got only one hit after the third inning and lost their fifth
straight. Washington went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position
after going 0-for-8 Friday night in a 2-1 defeat.

"We're just not clicking right now," Nationals manager Frank
Robinson said. "We're not clicking on any cylinders, and I really
don't know why."

Robinson was miffed at Cordero for walking Matos, which set up
the chain of events that led to yet another one-run loss -- the 12th
this season for Washington.

"We've been talking about it all year. You dig a hole for
yourself and you're going to get buried," Robinson said.

Rain interrupted play for 26 minutes in the top of the seventh
after Orioles reliever Chris Britton walked Vidro and Royce Clayton
with two outs. When play resumed, Kurt Birkins struck out Nick
Johnson, back in the lineup after missing a week with a lower back
strain.

In the bottom half, the Orioles loaded the bases with two outs
against Jon Rauch before Tejada grounded out.

Baltimore filled the bases with one out in the eighth, but Jeff
Conine hit into a double play.

Loewen needed 104 pitches to get through five innings. The
rookie gave up two runs and four hits, walked six and struck out
five.

It was Loewen's fifth start, the first in which he did not face
a former Cy Young winner. In his previous outings, the left-hander
went up against Randy Johnson, Tom Glavine and Roy Halladay --
twice.

The opposing pitcher this time was Michael O'Connor, who gave up
two runs and six hits in six innings.

"He was fine. It was a real good performance," Robinson said.

After Hernandez hit his 13th home run leading off the second
inning, Washington went up 2-1 in the third. Clayton drove in a run
with a groundout before Ryan Zimmerman ended an 0-for-16 run with a
two-out RBI double. Jose Guillen then grounded out with runners on
second and third.

The Orioles pulled even in the fifth when Conine singled, took
third on a double by Matos and scored on a single by Roberts.

Game notes
Hernandez's 13 homers are one more than he hit all last
year with San Diego. ... O'Connor has only one win in his last nine
starts despite posting a 3.81 ERA. ... Britton has allowed runs in
only four of 22 outings. ... Zimmerman's third-inning double was
his first hit since a walkoff homer on Sunday against the Yankees.