Pirates 5, Nationals 3

James McDonald tried a different approach in the bullpen.

Garrett Jones figured it was finally time to go long against a

lefty.

McDonald ate up innings – the way a first-game starter is

supposed to do – and Jones put his team ahead for good with a home

run in the eighth Saturday as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the

Washington Nationals 5-3 in the opening game of their first

doubleheader in the nation’s capital since the 19th Century.

Jones and Andrew McCutchen took Sean Burnett (3-5) deep

back-to-back as the Pirates moved two games over .500 for the

eighth time this season. They had yet to make it to three games

over, but they would try to get there again in the nightcap of

Pittsburgh’s first twin-bill in Washington since they split with an

early incantation of the National League Senators at Boundary Field

on May 19, 1899.

Jones entered the game hitting .129 against lefties, with no

homers and two RBIs. He said he needs to start hitting the ball

where it’s pitched – and he did just that by going the opposite way

and putting one into the red seats in left center.

”It definitely feels good to get one off a lefty. I’ve been

struggling off them,” Jones said. ”I saw the ball well today,

just trying to make strides and stay close and stay in a big part

of the field, stay up the middle and left-center off the lefty –

and was able to stay on that one good.”

McDonald and Nationals starter Livan Hernandez dominated much of

the game, combining for 13 strikeouts and six 1-2-3 innings.

McDonald allowed two runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings before

giving way to Jose Veras (2-2), who pitched 1 2-3 innings to get

the win.

”My preparation was a little different this time. My ‘pen was a

lot more focused, more game-like attitude to bear down on hitters

and get that feel going,” said McDonald, who decided on the new

approach after a talk with pitching coach Ray Searage. ”I feel

like I carried my bullpen out to the game.”

Joel Hanrahan gave up one run in the ninth but still got his

24th save in 24 chances this season, tying the club record for

consecutive saves opportunities converted.

Hernandez allowed two runs and six hits over seven innings –

including the first earned runs allowed by Washington’s pitching

staff in three games – but Burnett entered and uncharacteristically

gave up the long ball. He had allowed only one home run in 27 2-3

innings before Jones and McCutchen went deep.

”He looked like he was throwing really good, but he wasn’t

locating that good,” said Davey Johnson, who dropped to 1-4 as

Washington’s manager. ”You can’t leave the ball over the middle of

the plate with a guy like Jones.”

Jones finished with three hits – a single, double and homer –

and Alex Presley had three singles for the Pirates, who added a run

in the ninth on pinch-hitter Matt Diaz’s RBI single.

The Nationals picked up a run on Ivan Rodriguez’s RBI single in

the second, but a chance to make it a bigger inning was wiped out

when Danny Espinosa was picked off second.

The Nationals also loaded the bases with one out in the fifth

after two hits and a walk, but McDonald got Ryan Zimmerman to foul

out and struck out cleanup hitter Laynce Nix.

Rick Ankiel tied the game at 2 with a pinch-hit homer, his

second home run of the season and his first since the second game

of the season.

NOTES: The Pirates placed SS Ronny Cedeno on the 7-day

concussion disabled list. He was injured trying to break up a

double play in Friday’s game. Pittsburgh recalled INF Pedro Ciriaco

from Triple-A Indianapolis. … Pittsburgh then recalled RHP Brad

Lincoln from Indianapolis to start the second game of the

doubleheader. RHP Tim Wood was optioned to Triple A. … Pirates OF

Xavier Paul, who had missed the last three games with tightness in

his right hamstring, entered the game in the eighth inning. …

After Friday night’s win, Johnson asked reporters for directions to

his new home in the nation’s capital, having yet to make the drive

there from Nationals Park. Asked on Saturday if the trip went OK,

he said it did – despite an apparent wrong turn on an interstate.

That led to a long discussion about the city’s notorious traffic.

”If push comes to shove,” he concluded, ”I really know how to

walk out there and get a cab.” … Pirates manager Clint Hurdle

offered an amusing story about playing for Johnson in the minors in

Norfolk. ”In the first game, the third baseman broke his hand and

he looked in the dugout and asked me if I ever played third base,”

Hurdle said. ”And I said ‘Absolutely.’ So I played the second game

at third base, and about three days later he called me into the

office and said, ‘You’ve never played third base in your life, have

you?’ ‘Absolutely not.”’ Nevertheless, Johnson kept Hurdle at

third, and Hurdle said it helped re-ignite his career. ”We took

infield every day, just mainly for Clint,” Johnson said. … When

43-year-old Matt Stairs singled in the ninth inning Friday, he

became the oldest player to drive in a game-ending run since Graig

Nettles (also 43) for the Montreal Expos in 1988. … Nationals

reliever Henry Rodriguez was unavailable because of strep

throat.