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Nationals defeat Pirates, 6-2

Justin K. Aller

I have to run and don't have time for a full recap right now, but the Pirates lost to the Nationals 6-2 today as a promising start to the game quickly fizzled.

Wandy Rodriguez set the Nationals down in order in the first, and Bryce Harper was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Awesome! Then Starling Marte led off the game with a homer. Jordy Mercer followed with a double, Andrew McCutchen reached on an error by Ryan Zimmerman (who can't throw anymore), and Gaby Sanchez walked. Double awesome! Unfortunately, then Russell Martin and Michael McKenry struck out, and Brandon Inge -- who, again, shouldn't have been in the lineup, at least not as an outfielder -- grounded out, and it became clear that the Pirates had exhausted their quota of Good for the day.

The Nats tied the game in the second, then took a 3-1 lead on Danny Espinosa's homer in the fourth. The Pirates pulled to within one in the sixth when Sanchez singled and Martin doubled. But in the eighth, Mark Melancon didn't pitch because Clint Hurdle handles his bullpen like an overzealous middle manager sorting TPS reports, and Bryan Morris gave up a three-run homer to Tyler Moore. Game over! Obviously, this isn't to say that Morris can't handle a high-leverage situation every so often, but it's frustrating to watch him give up a home run that blows the game open when the Pirates' two best relievers rode the bench yet again.

Rodriguez actually had a quality start and struck out seven, and Jose Contreras pitched a scoreless seventh for a good Pirates debut. There just wasn't much reason to expect much from the offense, though, with Inge and John McDonald in the lineup, and sure enough, the Bucs only managed four hits after Nats starter Gio Gonzalez recorded his first out.