The Pirates rode a strong start by Edinson Volquez to a 3-1 nail-biter over the Nationals Thursday night as Josh Harrison yet again had a standout performance in right field.
Volquez worked painfully slowly, but he went six innings, striking out four and walking two while allowing one run. He also pitched his way out of trouble in the second, when he gave up a single to Wilson Ramos, and then Pedro Alvarez's throwing error allowed Tyler Moore to reach base. Volquez also walked the first two batters to start the third inning, but got a groundout, a fly ball and a groundout to avoid further damage.
The Pirates scored one in the third off a wild Blake Treinen, who loaded the bases with two outs and then hit Andrew McCutchen. The Nats then tied the game in the fourth when Ian Desmond homered to center. In the fifth, Harrison (who has done all kinds of good things recently) led off with a walk, then came around to score on McCutchen's single. Harrison then got Volquez off to a great start to the sixth when he made his second incredible catch in less than a week, laying out to snatch Ramos' gap line drive out of the air.
Jeanmar Gomez (in the game because the Pirates' bullpen pitched so many innings yesterday) got through an uneventful seventh, and Tony Watson escaped with a zero despite loading the bases in the eighth.
In the ninth, Chris Stewart hit a weak fly ball that landed in the grass in right center, and he ended up at second. He then came home on Harrison's single, making it 3-1.
Mark Melancon allowed two baserunners in the ninth, and then, with two outs, Anthony Rendon hit a soft line drive to shallow center that looked like it would fall in. But McCutchen slid to catch it, sealing the win.