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Burnett, McCutchen, Mercer team up to beat Nationals, 3-1

Justin K. Aller

The Pirates beat the Nationals 3-1 Friday thanks to an excellent outing by A.J. Burnett and homers by Andrew McCutchen and the newly-recalled Jordy Mercer.

In seven innings, Burnett struck out nine batters while allowing five hits and one run. That run came in the fourth, when Danny Espinosa singled and right fielder Brandon Inge made a horrific throw home. (I'm not sure what the solution should have been with the Pirates racked by minor injuries right now, but when you've got Brandon Inge playing right field, something's gone wrong. His experience in the outfield is very limited, and it isn't as if his bat is worth hiding there, even against a lefty.) Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli followed Burnett, striking out five batters combined in two innings. Melancon's masterful strikeout of Bryce Harper in the eighth is getting a lot of love in the comments. Not that this means much, but the ERAs for the pitchers involved with this game are as follows: 2.57, 0.56, 0.69.

McCutchen homered in the first. In the fifth, Starling Marte hit a two-out single, and Mercer crushed a fastball to left for a home run in his first big-league game this season. Which made me feel awfully good for my post earlier today, even though Mercer will likely just be a role player in the long run.

McCutchen had three hits, and Marte and Gaby Sanchez each had two.