With one away, Chase d'Arnaud lined a single to right of Tom Gorzelanny and stole second while McCutch walked. Big inning on the way? Nah, Matt Diaz bounced one to short for the inning-ending 6-4-3 DP.
Nats Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth opened the frame with line singles to put speedy runnuers at first and second, but Charlie Morton served a nasty sinker to Ryan Zimmerman and he banged into a 6-4-3 DP. Laynce Nix walked on four pitches, and in a testy little seven pitch at-bat, Michael Morse finally grounded out to short. All sizzle, no steak - no score after one.
Gorzo easily put the Bucs away in the second and 1-2-3'ed Washington, thanks to a diving grab of a liner ticketed for the LF corner by d'Arnaud.
McKenry opened the third by dinking out an infield knock. Morton bunted, Gorzo bobbled and then threw the ball away. McKenry kept going to third with Charlie holding up at first. Alex Presley grounded out softly to first, plating the run and moving Morton to second. McCutch bounced one to first, but Morse and Gorzo couldn't hook up on the throw and catch to beat a hustling McCutchen up the line; runners were on the corners. Diaz struck out swinging. The Bucs were up 1-0.
Morton walked Gorzelanny on five pitches, not the way you'd want to start the frame. Morton made amends by getting Bernadina to bounce one to Josh Harrison, who started a 4-6-3 DP. Werth popped out, so it ended up a walk through the park.
Lyle Overbay gave Gorzelanny's first pitch a ride, but Bernadina ran it down at the wall some 400' away. Cedeno lined a single to right; he's been hot at the dish the past couple of weeks. Harrison grounded to third, and around the horn it went for a 5-4-3 DP. Morton put the Nats down in order.
With two away in the fifth, The King pulled one into the right field corner for a double, but was left stranded when d'Arnaud popped out. Pittsburgh was 0-for-6 with RISP. Danny Espinosa opened up the fifth for DC by flying out to the wall in left center, spanking a Morton four-seamer. After a Wilson Romos bounce out, Ian Desmond reached on a Cedeno misthrow. Gorzo rolled out to third, and it was still 1-0 after five.
Gorzo hung a changeup to McCutch, and he rolled it into left field for a leadoff double. Diaz grounded out up the middle, getting McCutch to third. Overbay K'ed, a big out for Gorzo and Cedeno followed suit with a swinging strikeout; both whiffs were recorded on fastballs up and out of the zone. 0-for-9 with RISP is not clutch hitting, nor is going up hacking.
Bernadina tied it up on Morton's first pitch, a fastball, that he launched into right center for his fifth homer of the year. Werth bounced out, and Zimmerman lined a shot a d'Arnaud for the second out,
Clint Hurdle tapped the left forearm and called for Tony Watson to face Nix. CM went 5-2/3 innings, giving up a run on three hits and two walks and a K on 88 pitches. He mixed up his pitches tonight, using the curve and four-seamer as much as his sinker. But it didn't help his Achilles Heel - lefties went 3-for-7 against him, with a pair of walks and a couple of the outs were rockets. Still, a good outing after a string of stinkers.
Watson walked the LH Nix on four pitches and struck out RH Mike Morse swinging on a foul tip. Go figure. After six, it's a 1-1 game.
Harrison took a heater just off the plate and lined it into center to open the seventh. McKenry bunted him up a station. Brandon Wood came on to pinch hit; he struck out swinging at a 3-2 changeup. Presley went down swinging on three pitches. Gorzo has K'ed eight Buccos so far.
Dan McCutchen took the ball in the bottom of the seventh. He struck out Danny Espinosa and walked Ramos on a 3-2 fastball that missed badly. Desmond smacked one to short, and the 6-4-3 DP, the third the Bucs have turned in seven innings, closed out the frame.
Tyler Clippard came on for Washington in the eighth. d'Arnaud drilled a loud out, flying out just short of the track in dead center. McCutch flew out to the track in right center, and Garrett Jones, batting for Diaz, popped out. Danny Moskos came on to face the Nats.
Ricky Ankiel grabbed a stick to greet him with a single to right. Bernadina bunted to Moskos; he fired to first, and Harrison dropped the throw. Ouch. That brought on Chris Resop. He threw three heaters past Werth, catching him looking, for the first out. It took four fastballs to get Zimmerman looking. Playing progressive, he put away Nix swinging on five pitches. Tremendous show by Resop in the eighth.
The Nats sent Drew Storen to the hill in the ninth. Overbay lined one to center where Ankiel gloved it for the first out. Cedeno bounced out to second and Harrison to short; it took him seven pitches to put the Bucs away.
Tim Wood took over, the fifth Pirate reliever of the night with a DH on the books for tomorrow, leaving Jose Veras and Hanny in the pen. Morse lined a single to center to open the inning, and the next pitch was wild as Espinosa tried to bunt, moving Morse to second. The second offering was in the dirt, and he threw the next two wide to intentionally walk Espinosa.
Alex Cora came in to run for Morse. Wood stayed on, and Ramos flied out to right, moving Cora to third. Davey Johnson sent grizzled vet Matt Stairs to the plate. He took the second pitch to the wall in right, and the Nats claimed a 2-1 win.
Clint Hurdle, who generally does a brilliant job of manipulating his pen, certainly let tomorrow's DH influence his pitching. Davey Johnson went with his set up man and closer in the eighth and ninth, Clippert and Storen, a luxury he had because Gorzo went seven frames. Hurdle started the same innings with Moskos and Wood, the two low men on his bullpen totem pole. And we all know that Hanny only comes out to close in a save situation according to Hurdle's book, so it was Veras or Wood to work the ninth.
Hey, we understand he's going to be a man short tomorrow when Wood and Brad Lincoln get swapped out, so he was trying to squeak through a handful of outs without burning his big guys. It didn't work tonight.
Cie est la vie; there's not much a manger can do right when you score just a run. The team was 0-for-11 with RISP tonight. The question is will they wait out the injuries or look for a rental stick to put in the middle of the order?
They have the money if the FO can find someone looking to dump a contract for three months. But Hurdle has said that they've been scouring the market and nothing short of a king's ransom will shake a bat free; we have to assume he's in the know. Just maybe Pedro Alvarez's return is the best they can look for in the short term.
But if they want to send a message to the fans and the team that they're serious about 2011 and don't consider this year's first three months anything more than smoke and mirrors, they better keep looking. They have nine games left going into the All-Star break against the Nats, Astros and Cubs. If they can't make hay now, the season's early run was probably for naught.
Tomorrow's games will match up James McDonald and John Lannan in the opener, with Brad Lincoln and Livan Hernandez in the nightcap.
- Neil Walker and Xavier Paul were both available of the bench today. Paul is nearly 100%, but Walker may be worked into the lineup a little more slowly. The next three days are sorta hectic, featuring a doubleheader followed by a pair of day contests with a hop from DC to Pittsburgh in between, not leaving much time between games.
- Ronny Cedeno now has quietly put together a ten game hitting streak. His longest career streak is 13 games.
- Bernadina's homer off Charlie Morton broke a streak of 69-1/3 innings that he had cobbled together without giving up a long ball.
- The Pirates have lost six in a row at National Park.
- Joe Beimel struck out 2 of the 3 batters he faced in a scoreless inning of rehab work tonight for the High Class A Bradenton Marauders.
- Stetson Allie allowed one run on five hits in four innings of work for State College. He walked none and struck out five, a marked improvement over his wild-child first appearance.