Ah, even the baby Bucs can't play small ball. In a tightly pitched start, the Pirates had a chance to go ahead in the third when Jason Jaramillo led off with a double and was bunted to third by Zach Duke. But a one-hop chop by Jose Tabata and a pop into left by Neil Walker didn't do the trick.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the fourth, when the Zachster, who had been cruising, started sputtering. He gave up two-strike solo homers to Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham, one on a curve down the middle and the other on a heater, same place. He escaped leaving the bases loaded during a 37-pitch frame after only 18 tosses in the first three.
Pittsburgh gift wrapped another Washington run in the fifth, when with two out, Dunn singled. He was picked off breaking to second, but was awarded the sack when Duke's throw went to Ryan Doumit, who was nowhere near the bag, a book rule balk. Usually, the runner is held in that situation, but JR chose to let him go, and it cost him.
A wide hopper to LaRoche was fielded cleanly, but the long throw acrtoss the diamond took a medium bounce, and brand-spanking-new first baseman Doumit couldn't come up with it as Dunn jogged home when the ball rolled softly into right.
The Bucs banged their bats in the sixth. Duke and Tabata hit back-to-back doubles to start the inning. walker singled Tabs to third, and a McCutchen sac fly brought him home. Jones walked, but Doumit flew out to the track and Bobby Crosby struck out swinging, no doubt spooked by a pair of bad called strikes by plate ump Lance Barksdale.
The Zachster came out for the sixth, and left without getting anyone out. he wlaked the first batter, and gave up a pair of ground ball singles to the next two hitters, the second on an 0-2 pitch; yep, a curve right down the middle. His line was five innings, giving up two earned runs, eight hits and three walks while whiffing two.
Evan Meek saved his bacon by retiring the Nats on six pitches. He got a soft liner that Walker turned into a DP and a slow hopper to second.
The last third of the game was homecoming week. Joel Hanrahan stranded a leadoff hit by striking out a pair in the seventh while lighting up the gun at 98, and Sean Burnett stopped his old teammates in the seventh and eighth.
There was a bit of excitement when with one on and two away Dewey took one to the wall, but the Nats were in their no doubles defensive set and a little jog took care of that blast. Burney, a Buc number one pick, faced two other Pirate first-rounders, Walker and McCutchen; he got them both on pop ups.
Brendan Donnelly broke up the reunion, and gave up a big insurance run. With a 1-2 count on Mike Morse, Jaramillo stood up for a high heater. He got it, just above the letters, and Morse bombed the 90 MPH offering into center, scattering the ground crew and making it 4-2 Nats.
Tyler Cippard came on in the ninth and struck out a pair of Pirates to notch his first save and washington's first series sweep of the season. For Pittsburgh, it was the fifth straight loss and sixth out of the last seven.
The Nats outhomered the Bucs 7-1 during the series; Duynn, Zimmerman, and Willingham looked like Murderers Row. Toss in a couple of gift runs, and hey, it's gonna be a long set of games.
And the gift runs have to be expected; the Pirates have put four guys at second, five at first, and four at third, and we're only ten days into June. Hopefully, with the young guys just about set for the second season, the Pirates can field a regular lineup and stem the bleeding.
If the suits have a sense of timing, we'd expect to see Pedro be called up on Tuesday, when the Pirates start their home stand against the White Sox with Brad Lincoln on the hill; that should pump up the gate. He's due; there's not much more Alvarez can prove at Indy.
Ross Ohlendorf will take on Justin Verlander tomorrow night in Detroit.
-- Ryan Doumit started at first tonight, joining the 2010 assembly line of Jeff Clement, Garrett Jones, Steve Pearce, and Bobby Crosby. He's being protected from a slight concussion suffered Sunday; you may recall he missed a handful of games in 2008 for the same reason.
-- Jack Taschner told Peter Jackel of the Racine Journal Times yesterday that he wouldn't accept a demotion to Indy and was surprised that the Bucs let him go. Pittsburgh DFA'ed him, so he'll either be traded or waived in the coming week.
-- Indianapolis announcer Scott McCauley tweeted that Brian Friday left Wednesday's Indy game with an unspecified right ankle injury, and it looks like he'll be out for a while.