Pirates 4, Nationals 2

As it had all series, the rain wreaked havoc with the Washington

Nationals in Pittsburgh.

Friday’s scheduled series opener was postponed until Monday

night – causing the Nationals to privately wonder why it wasn’t an

afternoon getaway game. Then Saturday, Washington starter Livan

Hernandez blamed an abrupt end to a one-hour, 11-minute delay to

start the game for the Pirates’ five-run first.

On Monday, Washington had a 2-1 lead heading into a 21-minute

rain delay, but it quickly deteriorated when the Pirates scored

three runs over the first three batters after the delay in what

ended in a 4-2 Pittsburgh win.

”I was shocked when (crew chief Phil Cuzzi) called (for a

stoppage), but it doesn’t matter because you’ve got to make pitches

and I didn’t,” starter John Lannan said. ”I got too many balls up

in the strike zone.”

Pirates starter Paul Maholm came out of the fourth-inning rain

delay much better than Lannan. Maholm said he relaxed in the

clubhouse and watched the Penguins-Lightning NHL playoff game

during the delay.

Lannan (2-2) rode a stationary bike but emerged to promptly walk

Steve Pearce and allow Brandon Wood’s two-run double, erasing the

Nationals’ lead.

Lannan was ahead 0-1 on Pearce before the rains came.

”We were still in decent shape, but then Wood got the big

hit,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. ”I thought John’s

pitch was a pretty good pitch. I saw a replay and it looked like it

was in a decent spot but Wood has good power and put a good swing

on it.”

Wood’s double in his first game for Pittsburgh was part of a

four-run fourth inning that gave the Pirates their first lead.

”It’s nice you get the fist 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.”

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 the rain and

the Penguins playoff game.

Maholm (1-3) retired the final 13 batters he faced in seven

strong innings. He 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,

but he did not allow a baserunner from the second on.

”The first inning, I missed two pitches … and after that …

I just made sure they didn’t get anymore,” Maholm said. ”I was

mixing speeds and mixing pitches and just let the defense do some

work.”

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.

That would be the last ball put in play before the delay.

Washington had three postponements in a seven-day span last

week.

”There’s nothing you can do about that,” Riggleman said.

”It’s Maryland and Pennsylvania in April. You’re going to get

that. We’ve dealt with it before and we may not be past it yet. We

may get some more of it. It’s just a situation you have to deal

with.”

Wood’s double was the 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.

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 won Lannan’s past six

road outings since last season.

The second-worst hitting team in the majors, Washington had only

five hits a day after breaking out with a season-high 15.

”I know the players are a little frustrated with the hitting,”

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.