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Nationals get to Charlie Morton early as Pirates lose 5-4

Patrick Smith

The Nationals got to Charlie Morton early, and the Pirates' offense couldn't rally late as Washington won Friday, 5-4.

The first six batters Morton faced all reached base, with the only saving grace coming when Denard Span got caught stealing third. The Nats got the benefit of some weakly hit balls, with Adam LaRoche knocking in a run with a seeing-eye single and Bryce Harper bringing in two more with a bloop. In the third, it was more of the same, with the first three Nats reaching base. LaRoche, the third of those batters, knocked in a run with a ground-ball single, and Wilson Ramos knocked in another with a single of his own three batters later. Morton ended up leaving after three innings.

The Bucs got three runs back in the fourth. Neil Walker hit a one-out double, and Starling Marte brought him home with a two-run shot. Then Travis Snider walked and came home on Pedro Alvarez's double.

After that, though, not much happened, as the Nationals were perfect through the fifth through eighth innings. The Bucs staged a mini-rally in the ninth, with Alvarez knocking home Marte with an RBI single, but Josh Harrison popped out to end the game with two runners on base.

John Axford made a nice Pirates debut in the eighth, striking out two in a perfect inning. Alvarez, meanwhile, made one questionable throw, although he had a strong game offensively.