WASHINGTON -- This season's annual Battle of the Beltway between the Nationals and Orioles has been a resounding success as far as attendance and exposure for the two clubs.
The Nationals drew 42,331 for Saturday's 6-5 loss to the Orioles -- the second-largest crowd in the history of four-year-old Nationals Park. This series is the first the teams have played when each had winning records, and the players could feel the energy from a crowd that has been evenly split for the two clubs.
"This whole thing, with both of us playing well, and both of us having a young group of guys on the team that this fan base can cheer for -- not only this year but years to come -- I think is great," said Ryan Zimmerman, who went 3-for-5 on Saturday night with a homer. "It's great for both cities. It's great for baseball. It's great for this area. It's only going to get better as the years go on."
The Nationals were expecting another big crowd for Sunday's final game with ace Stephen Strasburg on the hill. The Orioles won the opening two games of the series.
The teams will meet again in Baltimore on June 22-24. The Orioles lead the series, 21-17, since the teams started playing in 2006.
After this set, the Nationals embark on a nine-game road trip against divisional rivals.
"Any time you lose the first two and salvage a game, it's kind of a momentum swing," Zimmerman said. "Hopefully, Stevie will pitch well and we get him some support early."