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John Means, Orioles try to complete sweep of Nationals

Sun Jul 25 2:51am ET

John Means and the Baltimore Orioles will go for a three-game sweep of the visiting Washington Nationals on Sunday.

The Orioles, who have won five of seven, are helping to ruin what was supposed to be a welcome six-game stretch for Washington. The Nationals went 2-1 against the last-place Miami Marlins and are 0-2 versus last-place Baltimore.

Means (4-3, 2.72 ERA) makes his second start since missing six weeks with a shoulder strain. Last time out, he allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings in a loss to the Rays in his first start since June 5. He struck out two without a walk.

"I was just throwing too many strikes, too many pitches over the plate," Means said. "I thought I was attacking, and so were they. I had too many fat pitches today."

Means allowed three runs in 2/3 of an inning in his only previous appearance against the Nationals.

Washington had planned to start left-hander Jon Lester in the finale, but that changed Saturday when Max Scherzer had to be scratched from his start with right triceps discomfort. Lester moved up a day on full rest, and now right-hander Paolo Espino (2-2, 3.00) will do the same.

Espino allowed four hits in five scoreless innings in a win Tuesday against the Marlins. He struck out three without a walk and retired the last eight hitters he faced.

"Today was one of those days where everything you throw, you feel comfortable, you feel good," he said. "That was a good feeling today."

Espino has never faced the Orioles.

Matt Harvey tossed six shutout innings for the second consecutive start and the Orioles held on to defeat the Nationals 5-3 on Saturday.

Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle homered for Baltimore, which was swept at Washington in May and now has a chance to return the favor.

Juan Soto hit his 17th homer of the season, and sixth since the All-Star break. Washington scored three late runs off the Orioles bullpen, but it wasn't enough to overcome a 5-0 deficit.

"We came in hoping to win two out of three. Now (we try to) come out tomorrow and win a game tomorrow and go from there," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "We still got a lot of baseball left, we really do. Our offense needs to get it going again."

In their past three games, the Nationals have 16 hits and have left 18 runners on base.

"We were swinging the bats so well, and now all of a sudden, we're not," Martinez said. "We've got to get back to staying in the middle of the field, getting ready early and trying not to do too much. Just hit line drives in gaps and try not to do a whole lot."

Orioles reliever Tanner Scott hit two batters to load the bases in the eighth. Trea Turner singled in two runs, but Scott got Soto to pop out.

"He made the pitch of the game getting Soto out there," manager Brandon Hyde said. "I think we all know that he's got electric stuff. The fastball's upper 90s, the slider's a wipeout slider. At times, he can be a little erratic. I think you kind of have to ride the wave a little bit."

--Field Level Media

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