Denard Span opened with an infield knock off Charlie Morton; Pedro made a nice diving stop and strong throw, but it wasn't enough to nail the speedster. Span stole second, and Asdrubal Cabrera walked. Span got greedy and went for third; Russ said no - and good thing, as Anthony Rendon singled to right. It didn't stop; Adam LaRoche rolled one through the right side barely past a diving Walker to score Cabrera. Ian Desmond walked on four pitches.
Bryce Harper had a long at-bat, culminated when he ripped a 3-2 fastball, inside corner and belt high, into right to plate two more runs. Ray Searage came out and barked at the ump, who is calling a tight zone but hasn't really missed any pitches. Charlie. Morton at least listened, getting Wilson Ramos to bounce into a 4-3 DP.
Ike Davis got a two-out single to provide the Bucco action in the second, and Charlie bounced back to toss a clean frame. It was 1-2-3 for Pittsburgh in the third. Cabrera singled to open the Nat half. Rendon walked and LaRoche went the opposite way, singling through the left side, to score another Washington run. A two-out single by Ramos added another to make it 5-0.
The Bucs made some noise in the fourth, when The Kid doubled and then took it easy on a jog home ahead of Starling Marte's long fly to make it 5-2. Travis Snider walked, and an out later, Pedro made it interesting when his double to right center plated Snider. Jayson Nix hit for Morton and bounced out. Jeanmar Gomez came on and gave up a double and a walk, but no runs, yay!
The Bucs hit the ball hard but at 'em in the fifth. The Nats didn't, but got an infield single and bloop to open their half. A 5-3 DP and whiff relieved the pressure. Snider singled with two gone in the sixth, and while he was stranded, it was enough to get Roarke out of the game, replaced by Jerry Blevins. Justin Wilson came on for Pittsburgh and gave a single in a scoreless inning.
Drew Storen came on for the seventh and worked a quick frame. Tony Watson took the bump; we're a little surprised by that, but Clint apparently wanted to match him against Washington's 4-5-6 hitters, and made a good choice as Tony mowed them down without a ball leaving the infield.
Tyler Clippard took the ball in the eighth and retired the Bucs in order. John Axford made his Pirate debut against the bottom of the Nat order, and gave up a rocket out followed by a pair of whiffs.
Rafael Soriano came on for the save. Starling spoiled a couple of two-strike pitches, then found one that he bounced up the middle. An out later, Gaby took a shot at tying it, but his ball fell short of the track in right. Pedro singled in Marte; Michael Martinez ran for him and Stew hit for Axford. It all worked; Stewart singled to right, sending MM to third. But Josh popped out foul behind the plate, and the Nats escaped 5-4.
Without Cutch and now Mercer, the Bucs can still put together a pretty good lineup against righties, but we dread tomorrow's lineup with a lefty, Gio Gonzalez, on the hill. Charlie better find his mojo pretty soon; five of his past seven starts have been shaky, and he hasn't won a game since July 2nd.
Jeff Locke takes on Gio Gonzalez tomorrow night.
- Jordy Mercer's forearm hasn't improved; he hasn't had an MRI yet, but did pinch hit. He tried to drag a bunt, so we're still doubtful about his arm strength right now.
- Stolmy Pimentel officially went on the 15-day DL with a sprained right ankle that he hurt Wednesday. Coincidental or not, it gives the team time to safely stow him away until September's roster blossoms.
- Washington's outfield will be a little rough, at least for tonight; they just hosted a concert there.
- Gerrit Cole might be ready. He went seven scoreless innings for Indy, giving up five hits with a walk and three K, tossing 92 pitches.