Josh Bell's three-run home run kickstarted the Pirates' offense, Andrew McCutchen had two hits and two RBIs and the Bucs supported a very effective Gerrit Cole for a 6-1 win over the Nationals on Wednesday night.
A walk and a hit batsman put Bell up in the sixth inning, and he clobbered Jacob Turner's fastball down the middle, well into the right-field seats for a 3-0 Pirates lead.
Bell was immediately removed from the game for defensive purposes, which continues to baffle me. He's not Pedro Alvarez out there and a three-run lead with three innings to go, especially against Washington, isn't exactly a situation that screams for the baseball version of a defensive shell.
The Nationals did get a run in the seventh, Cole's last inning, but the Bucs shot back in the bottom of the inning. McCutchen's long single to right plated John Jaso and Adam Frazier from second and first, respectively, and Cutch scored on Francisco Cervelli's sacrifice fly for a 6-1 lead.
McCutchen went 2-for-4, scored two runs and stole two bases, including a swipe of third in the sixth, a night after being removed in a double switch like a regular old dude. (To be fair, he's been a regular old dude.)
Cole struck out just three, but he allowed the one run on three hits and two walks in seven innings and got nine groundouts to four flyouts.
Felipe Rivero needed eight pitches to get through a 1-2-3 eighth and Juan Nicasio pitched the ninth.
Turner, a post-post-post-hype righty who has carved out a role for himself in the Nationals bullpen, kept the Pirates under control for the first five innings in his spot start, with an uncharacteristic 12:1 groundball-to-flyball ratio. He allowed just four hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Washington's bullpen continues to have its issues, with Oliver Perez and Matt Albers running into some trouble in this one. If the Pirates and Tyler Glasnow (a big if himself) can wait out Tanner Roark on Thursday afternoon, they'll have a nice shot at taking this series.