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Pirates' offense, defense struggle against Strasburg, Nationals

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Strasburg dominated the Pirates' offense and the Bucs' defense struggled in the late innings as the Nationals won Friday night, 5-1.

Francisco Liriano cruised through the early innings, retiring his first nine batters and facing the minimum through four and a third. In the fifth, Starling Marte singled, stole his 31st base of the season, and came home on Jordy Mercer's single. But Liriano gave up a series of singles as the Nats tied the score in the bottom of the inning.

Still, Liriano's start was a pleasant surprise -- he mostly stayed out of trouble, and his slider was especially effective. But the Bucs hit a wall in the seventh. Liriano gave up a walk and a single, then was replaced by Neftali Feliz. On Strasburg's bunt, Feliz failed to hold Danny Espinosa at third, David Freese failed to touch first base on the throw, and the Nats took a 2-1 lead with no outs. Feliz then issued a wild pitch, then a back-breaking homer to Michael Taylor.

That was pretty much it. Strasburg went eight innings, allowed just three hits and two walks, and whiffed six. The Pirates fell to 46-44 with the loss.