It's tough to fault Nationals reliever Sean Burnett too much for the fastball that was too high to Orioles catcher Matt Wieters in the eighth inning of a one-run game Sunday afternoon. For all the jumbled roles the Nationals' bullpen has endured because of injuries, Burnett has been a steady force, a left-handed reliever who has made the eighth inning carefree for Washington.

Burnett gave up a single to Adam Jones and then a decisive two-run home run to Wieters in a 2-1 loss to the Orioles. But he, the Nationals' starting pitching and the team's bullpen have propelled the franchise's rise to first place in the National League East. That status has been achieved despite one of the lowest-scoring offenses in the major leagues that leaves little room for error in tight games.