WASHINGTON -- An instant after the fly ball settled into the glove of center fielder Lastings Milledge, fireworks blasted high into the sky.
Playing before a huge crowd in their new $611 million ballpark, the Washington Nationals beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 Friday night. It was first time since May 4 that Washington won a second straight at home.
Pinch-hitter Kory Casto doubled in the tiebreaking run in the seventh inning and scored on a single by Elijah Dukes to carry Washington to victory before 35,380 enthusiastic fans -- the largest crowd at Nationals Park since opening night.
"Thirty-five thousand paid attendance; it was awesome," Casto said. "The seats were full before we even got out there. It was a good mix of people and it was fun to play in front of everybody."
Sure, some of the fans came from Baltimore, 35 miles to the north. But it was precisely the kind of atmosphere the Nationals were hoping for after moving from ancient RFK Stadium.
"It was nice to see it," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "I got to give it to our fans. They knew what they were getting into -- and the (rebuilding) plan that we're into -- and we're still averaging 30,000 people at night. There are teams in the major leagues in first, second place drawing 20,000 or 15,000. Tonight was great. I could tell right after batting practice it was going to be a great crowd because of the Orioles fans here, too."
Baltimore fans cheered after the visitors rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie. But Washington rebounded in the seventh.
With the score 2-all, Willie Harris got a leadoff walk off Daniel Cabrera (5-4). Casto followed with a double to left, and one out later Dukes hit an RBI single.
Casto is 3-for-6 with a double, home run and five RBI as a pinch hitter.
"Coming off the bench, it's tough. It's something I've never really done," Casto said. "... It's your one shot and you've got to make it count."
Cabrera, who allowed four runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings, is 0-3 in seven starts since May 20.
Joel Hanrahan (4-2) pitched a scoreless seventh inning and Jon Rauch, the fifth Washington pitcher, got three outs for his 16th save in 20 tries.
Brian Roberts led off the ninth with a double and Nick Markakis walked, but Melvin Mora hit into a double play before Kevin Millar flied out to Millings.
"Mora hits a ball on the button right at the shortstop. We had something going there and that's kind of like a buzz kill," Millar said. "Rauch did his job."
Orioles manager Dave Trembley said, "If he hits it 2 feet either side, you're looking at first and third with nobody out. That's baseball. He had a great swing."
But it went for naught, extending Mora's slump to 0-for-16. Adam Jones went 3-for-3 with a walk for the Orioles, who fell to 10-6 in interleague play.
Working on a limited pitch count after missing 3½ weeks with shoulder tendinitis, Nationals starter Odalis Perez gave up three hits and three walks in four innings. He left with a 2-0 lead, but the Orioles pulled even against reliever Steven Shell.
Roberts opened the fifth with a triple and scored on a groundout by Markakis. The hit extended Roberts' hitting streak to 14 games, six short of his career high.
Baltimore tied it with an unearned run in the sixth. Jones singled and took second when left fielder Wily Mo Pena misplayed the ball. Brandon Fahey, called up from Triple-A Norfolk earlier in the day, followed with a bloop single that scored Jones.
Fahey was out trying for second, however, and the Orioles got only two more hits the rest of the way.
Washington took a 2-0 first-inning lead on RBI singles by Milledge and Jesus Flores. Cabrera allowed hits to four of the first five batters before Aaron Boone hit into an inning-ending double play.
In the second, Milledge hit a routine fly to right after the Nationals loaded the bases with two outs. That started a run in which Cabrera retired 13 of 14, including the last 11 leading up to the pivotal seventh inning.
Baltimore got runners on second and third with two outs in the fourth, but with Cabrera coming to the plate, the uprising was as good as done. Cabrera struck out, giving him 13 strikeouts in 13 career at-bats.
He made it 14-for-14 in the sixth.
Baltimore has been outscored 57-34 in the first inning. ... With Perez getting a no-decision, Nationals starters have two wins in the last 27 games. ... The start of the game was delayed 13 minutes by rain.