Nationals 4, Pirates 3
With every jog back to the dugout after yet another fruitless
trip to the plate, the hometown boos get louder for Jayson
Davey Johnson understands. Less than one week into the job as
the Washington Nationals manager, he’s practically giving a
thumbs-down review to the entire lineup.
The Nationals scored their runs on two groundouts and an error
on a double steal before pinch-hitter Ivan Rodriguez finally drove
in someone with authority, singling to right field to bring home
the go-ahead run in the eighth inning of a 4-3 win over the
Pittsburgh Pirates that salvaged a split in Saturday’s
”It was terrible,” said Johnson, who is 2-4 since taking over
in Washington. ”We would have the right guys up, with men in the
scoring position, and we just didn’t get it done. We had to score
on groundballs in the infield and break up double plays. We didn’t
really drive anybody in, except for Pudge.
”I know it’s going to get better. I’m optimistic,” he added.
”I wanted to score runs. I’m kind of an offensive manager, and I’m
having to open up a new play book, and it’s not one I like. I have
to steal and hope they throw it away to get a run across.”
The Nationals went 4 for 18 with runners in scoring position in
the doubleheader, with Pirates winning the first game 5-3. It was
Pittsburgh’s first twinbill in Washington since they split with an
early incantation of the National League Senators at Boundary Field
on May 19, 1899, and at times the home team’s attack looked 19th
Baring the brunt of it was Werth, the player with the
seven-year, $126 million contract who is hitting .165 since June 1
and .224 for the season. Johnson tried batting Werth fifth for the
first time this season in Game 2, and it didn’t help.
Strikeout in the fourth. Strikeout in the sixth. Flyout in the
eighth with the Nationals trailing and a runner on base. He went 0
for 3 with a walk, doffing his helmet toward the booing fans as he
made his way down the dugout steps after his last at-bat.
”Nah, not tonight,” Werth said as reporters approached his
”He’s a great ballplayer, and he’s going to get it going,”
Johnson said. ”He takes it as hard as anybody around here. He
works hard. He’s a gamer. He’s going to be fine. But that’s part of
the game. When you’re going good, they cheer you. When you’re not
going so good, they boo you.”
Livan Hernandez and John Lannan became the latest Nationals
starters to have a good outing go to waste. Hernandez allowed two
runs and six hits over seven innings – the first earned runs
allowed by Washington’s pitching staff in three games – but didn’t
get the decision in the opener. Lannan gave up three runs and six
hits over seven innings in the second game.
Ryan Mattheus (1-0) pitched the eighth inning in Game 2 to get
his first major league win, and Drew Storen handled the ninth for
his 20th save.
Tony Watson (0-1) took the loss in the nightcap for the Pirates,
who started five rookies in the nightcap. Brad Lincoln, recalled
from Triple-A Indianapolis for the game, allowed two runs over six
innings in his season debut. The key error came when converted
outfielder Eric Fryer, playing only his third game as a catcher in
the majors, threw into left field for an error when the Nationals
pulled off a double steal. Pinch-runner Brian Bixler scored on the
”It’s on-the-job training,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle
said. ”They’re getting experience right away – at the highest
level – and they’re also learning some things every day because it
can be a little different game from time to time.”
The Game 1 win put Pittsburgh two games above .500 for the
eighth time this season – they’re now 0-8 when they try to get
three games above the break-even mark.
In the opener, Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen hit
back-to-back homers off Sean Burnett (3-5) in the eighth inning,
and James McDonald had a strong outing for Pirates. Jones entered
the game hitting .129 against lefties, with no homers and two RBIs,
but he took the lefty reliever the opposite way and put one into
the red seats in left center. Burnett had only allowed one home run
Jose Veras (2-2) pitched 1 2-3 innings to get the win. 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.
Meanwhile, Johnson has to feel fortunate that the Nationals are
back at .500 with so many regulars hitting in the low .200s.
”We’ve had more downs than ups,” he said. ”But we’re hanging
NOTES: McCutchen hit for a ”doubleheader cycle” – home run and
double in Game 1; triple, double and single in Game 2. … 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. … RHP Tim Wood was optioned to Indianapolis to make
room for Lincoln. … Pirates OF Xavier Paul, who had missed the
last three games with tightness in his right hamstring, entered the
first game in the eighth inning. … Nationals reliever Henry
Rodriguez was unavailable because of strep throat. … Nationals
RHP Chien-Ming Wang made his second rehab start Saturday, throwing
four scoreless innings at for Single-A Potomac.
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP