Pirates 4, Nationals 2

Clint Hurdle’s advice to Brandon Wood on his Pittsburgh Pirates
debut?

”I told him, ‘Don’t put a lot of weight in making a first
impression,” the manager said before Monday’s game.

Wood ending up impressing his new teammates and fans,
anyway.

Wood’s two-run double in his first game for Pittsburgh was part
of a four-run fourth inning that gave the Pirates their first lead.
They defeated the Washington Nationals 4-2 in front of a sparse
crowd at soggy PNC Park on Monday.

”It’s nice you get the first hit and the first couple RBIs out
of the way and can just go play some baseball from here,” said
Wood, picked up on waivers from the Los Angeles Angels on
Friday.

”It’s just one game and you never know how things go,” Wood
added. ”I’m just going to keep the same mentality and just have
fun. The guys were great. I’m fortunate to be around these guys
because that was some fun coming through the dugout after that
hit.”

Paul Maholm retired the final 13 batters he faced in seven
strong innings as Pittsburgh made up the original series opener
that was postponed by rain on Friday.

Announced paid attendance was 12,457, but only about 2,600 made
it through the turnstiles on what wasn’t originally a scheduled
game night. Also contributing to the poor showing was rain that
caused a 21-minute delay and a Penguins playoff game at the same
time.

Maholm (1-3) allowed four hits and two walks with eight
strikeouts in winning for the first time this season. After Adam
LaRoche’s two-run single in the first inning, Maholm faced only two
over the minimum the rest of the way.

Six of the 15 runs Maholm has allowed this season have come in
the first inning. Monday, he came out of the fourth-inning rain
delay better than Washington’s John Lannan. The Pirates entered it
behind but Maholm did not allow a baserunner thereafter.

”The first inning, I missed two pitches,” Maholm said. ”I
just made sure they didn’t get anymore. I was mixing speeds and
mixing pitches and just let the defense do some work.”

Maholm said he relaxed in the clubhouse and watched the
Penguins-Lightning hockey game during the delay. Lannan (2-2) rode
a stationary bike but emerged to promptly walk Steve Pearce and
allow Wood’s double, erasing the Nationals’ lead.

”I was shocked … but it doesn’t matter because you’ve got to
make pitches and I didn’t,” Lannan said. ”I got too many balls up
in the strike zone.”

Maholm beat the Nationals for the first time in eight career
starts and tied Zach Duke as PNC Park’s all-time wins leader with
31.

Evan Meek worked a perfect eighth, and Joel Hanrahan struck out
pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel looking with runners on first and third
and two outs in the ninth to finish his sixth save.

Making his 100th career start, Lannan allowed only one hit
before a one-out walk to Jose Tabata in the fourth. With two outs
and Tabata at second, Neil Walker singled to right.

On Sunday, Jayson Werth threw Andrew McCutchen out at the plate
to end the game, but his throw home this time was up the third base
line and got past catcher Wilson Ramos.

Lannan went 0-1 on Pearce before the rain. Wood’s double was
second hard-hit ball to right-center of the game. The first was
caught on the run by Werth in the second inning, but this one
one-hopped the wall.

Wood, a former top prospect who hit .168 in 173 games with the
Angels over five seasons, had no RBIs in 15 at-bats this
season.

”He looked pretty comfortable, especially the first swing you
put on the ball and drive it to right-center,” Hurdle said. ”He
just didn’t quite flush that one but got a good swing on it. He
caught the next one right on the barrel.”

Lannan was charged with four runs on five hits and two walks
with three strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings. He had a five-game road
winning streak snapped. The Nationals had Lannan’s past six road
outings since last season.

The second-worst hitting team in the majors, Washington had only
five hits one day after breaking out with a season-high 15.

”I know the players are a little frustrated with the hitting,”
manager Jim Riggleman said. ”I know I’m repeating myself, but
we’ve got to win the ballgame anyway. We can’t only win when we
hit.”

Notes: Washington had two errors to make it eight in the series
after having only 12 over the first 18 games. … SS Brian Bixler
made his Nationals debut, going 0 for 3. … Walker had two hits to
give him five in his past two games. … LaRoche has reached base
in 17 of 19 games this season.