Pirates 4, Nationals 2
Andrew McCutchen’s power will come and go. His speed is what
makes the Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder one of the most dynamic
players in baseball.
The All-Star used both to give the Pirates their first winning
streak in three weeks.
McCutchen went 4 for 4, including his second home run in as many
nights, as Pittsburgh dropped the Washington Nationals 4-2 on
Brad Lincoln (2-0) earned the win in relief of starter Erik
Bedard, who was lifted three pitches into the second inning due to
back spasms. Joel Hanrahan survived a shaky ninth to pick up his
sixth save as the Pirates won consecutive games for the first time
since April 17-18.
Though McCutchen’s eighth-inning blast gave the Pirates some
breathing room, it was his daring dash from second to home on an
infield single to cap Pittsburgh’s three-run third inning that
stoked his teammates.
The Pirates had runners on first and second with two outs when
McCutchen took off on Casey McGehee’s slow roller to shortstop.
Washington’s Ian Desmond scooped it up and thought about firing to
first before pulling the ball down. Desmond then glanced at third,
but McCutchen was already on his way to the plate. By the time
Desmond got the ball out of his hands, it was too late.
”He hesitated a little bit and I guess that was just enough,”
McCutchen said. ”It was one of those, might as well go and I
Desmond praised McCutchen’s speed rather than blame his own
”I would say nine or 10 times out of 10 that runner stops and
tries to dive back into third,” Desmond said. ”He saw that I
fielded it and he looked at me and darted toward home.”
Ross Detwiler (3-2) allowed three runs and seven hits with four
strikeouts in six innings for Washington. Desmond had two hits and
Xavier Nady and Chad Tracy knocked in runs for the Nationals, but
they couldn’t stop Washington from dropping its third straight.
”My guys are trying, pumped up to keep winning ballgames,”
Washington manager Davey Johnson said. ”We’re just not getting
quality at-bats, that’s all.”
Washington had its chances to rally in both the eighth and
The Nationals loaded the bases with one out in the eighth
against Jason Grilli, but Grilli struck out Danny Espinosa and Rick
Ankiel to end the threat.
Hanrahan, who blew a save on Tuesday only to be bailed out by
Rod Barajas’ game-winning two-run homer, entered in the ninth and
struggled again. He hit pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi with one out
then gave up a double to Desmond.
In stepped heralded Washington rookie Bryce Harper, still
looking for his first major league home run. He swung for the
fences while falling behind 0-2 then popped meekly to
Ryan Zimmerman followed and worked the count full before
striking out on a 96 mph fastball from Hanrahan.
”I had a good pitch to hit, I just missed it,” Zimmerman said.
”(Hanrahan) throws hard; it’s not easy to square someone up like
The victory gave the Pirates something they haven’t had in a
while: momentum. Save for a brief two-game slide in St. Louis last
week, Pittsburgh has alternated wins and losses in each game.
The Pirates hoped Bedard would give them a boost. Instead the
oft-injured left-hander was lifted after throwing a fastball to
Adam LaRoche in the second inning. Bedard grabbed his side after
letting the pitch go. He tried to stretch for manager Clint Hurdle
before being sent to the dugout.
”I think it just jumped on him,” Hurdle said.
Enter Lincoln, a spot starter turned long reliever. He gave up
an unearned run, one hit and four strikeouts and one walk in three
innings while dropping his ERA to 0.63.
”I had no time to think about getting into the game,” Lincoln
said. ”You just go in there and give `em what you got.”
Nady, making a start in right field in place of injured Jayson
Werth, put Washington on the board with an RBI single in the fourth
and Tracy’s pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the seventh pulled the
Nationals within 3-2.
Washington would get no closer, though the Nationals refused to
blame their slide on a letdown following an emotional home series
with Philadelphia last weekend.
”I think guys are frustrated, not like we’re out of it by any
means but guys are frustrated because they know what we can do,”
Desmond said. ”We know we’re a good offensive ballclub.”
NOTES: Injured Washington reliever Drew Storen could begin a
throwing program by the end of the week. Storen hasn’t pitched all
season while recovering from bone chips in his right elbow. Johnson
said he’s hopeful Storen and closer Brad Lidge – recovering from
abdominal surgery – will be making rehab appearances by the end of
the month … The series concludes on Thursday when Washington’s
Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 1.66 ERA) faces Pittsburgh’s Kevin Correia
(1-2, 3.38) … Pittsburgh outfielder Alex Presley, mired in a
3-for-28 slump, didn’t start for the second straight game while he
works in the batting cage.