Pedro opened the second with a single of Anthony Rendon's mitt. Martin rolled a knock into center to Bucs at first and second, and Garrett Jones drew a five pitch walk to jam the sacks. Neil Walker, in his return, bounced into a force to plate El Toro, thanks to a strong takeout slide by Jones. Jordy Mercer then banged one to third; after a nice pick by Ryan Zimmerman, it looked like a DP in the making, but Rendon dropped the toss, letting another run in with everyone safe.
Cole helped himself by singling through the left side after showing bunt to make it 3-0. Starling Marte lined a bullet to second; Rendon made the grab and threw behind Mercer to get the inning-ending DP. Washington got a runner aboard when Werth was nicked by a pitch with an out, but Cole stranded him. The batter before him, Adam LaRoche, almost went yard the opposite way, but Starling Marte took extra bases away from him
The Bucs went down in order in the third; the Nats lit the scoreboard when Wilson Ramos led off with a homer that Cutch was a hair away from pulling back in. Martin led off the fourth with a knock to left and got to second an out later, but was left there. The Nats went down 1-2-3. Jordan tucked Pittsburgh away cleanly in the fifth. Cole lost Ian Desmond after being ahead 0-2 in the count, and a swinging bunt followed by a fly to right moved him to third. Cole got Jordan to tap out to Walker, and it stayed 3-1 after five frames.
Cutch led off the sixth with a knock into left, but was quickly erased on a Pedro 4-6-3 DP, and Martin K'ed looking to end the frame. The Nats went down routinely. Both rookie starters have been pretty efficient, with Jordan sitting at 71 pitches and Cole at 78.
With two away in the seventh, Mercer and Cole hit back-to-back knocks to put Bucs on the corners, but Marte rolled the first pitch to short; Desmond made the backhand stop and flipped to second to end the inning. The Bucs, needless to add, are 1-for-6 with RISP; and Cole has that hit. The Nats hit a couple of balls hard, but LaRoche's drive to straight center was corralled by Cutch a couple of steps short of the wall and Mercer made a skidding stop of Jason Werth's one hopper ticketed for left. A broken bat popper took care of the Nats; that's nine in a row for Cole, who hasn't given up a hit since the Ramos homer.
A mistake pitch got Jordan yanked in the eighth. After a pair of routine outs and two strikes on Pedro, the catcher tapped the ground for a spinner in the dirt. Instead, he left it up and away, and El Toro dropped it just over the railing and into the LF stands to make it 4-1. Martin lined a knock into left that almost undressed Zimmerman, ala Charlie Brown, and the Nats called on Ian Krol, bringing up Gaby to hit for Jones. This time it paid off, as he doubled into right center to chase Martin home after he had stolen second and went to third on a bad throw. Two out lightning for a little insurance.
Cole went seven innings, giving up a run on two hits with a walk, HBP and four K, tossing 92 pitches. Bryon Morris climbed the bump. Denard Span slapped a knock the opposite way to welcome him to the game. Ramos flared a soft broken bat liner to left; Marte closed on the ball and made the catch like it was hit right at him. Roger Bernadina pinch hit and helped the cause, chasing a 3-2 slider that was down. Harper bounced out to first, and it was on to the ninth.
Closer Tyler Clippard took the ball for the Nats, just for the work, and K'ed a pair. Mark the Shark got the call for Pittsburgh, probably to get him use to the ninth in a low-pressure situation, yet while facing the 2-3-4 hitters for Washington. He was up a little more than usual, getting a couple of fly outs, but still used just seven pitches to set down Washington.
It'll be interesting to see how Clint Hurdle, who likes set roles for his bullpen, handles the relievers during Jason Grilli's absence. It'll be a learning experience for him, we're sure, and we expect to see a set-up by committee, at least early on. But for now, three in a row for the Buccos. Francisco Liriano takes on Steven Strasberg tomorrow in a marquee match.
- Jordy Mercer now has a nine game hitting streak.
- Russ Martin went 3-for-4, but Starling Marte, now getting a diet of soft stuff, is stuck in an 0-for-17 funk as the cat-and-mouse game with the NL pitchers continues.
- Gerrit Cole broke a three game losing streak.
- Vic Black made it in time to get to join the bullpen tonight, jogging out to join his new mates in the third inning.
- The initial diagnosis is that Jason Grilli will miss 7-10 days. But the FO, while knocking on wood that his injury isn't serious - they're calling it a strain for now - won't know for sure until some tests are run in Pittsburgh, including a MRI.
- The Bucs may be making over Indy wild child Andy Oliver ala Justin Wilson/Bryon Morris; he made his first relief appearance tonight since he joined the Pirate organization this season.