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Pirates’ offense back in sleep mode in 3-2 loss to Washington

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Jameson Taillon partially recovered from his rough, two-game stretch in the opener of a four-game series in Washington. The Pirates’ offense, though, wasn’t up to the task, getting mostly dominated by Tanner Roark in a 3-2 loss to the Nationals. The loss ended the Pirates’ win streak at five.

Taillon’s outing wasn’t great, but it was a marked improvement over his previous two. He pitched well against the middle of the Nats’ order, holding Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper and Howie Kendrick to no hits and a walk in eight ABs. What problems he had were almost entirely with the very weak-hitting bottom of the Washington order. Matt Wieters, Wilmer Difo and Roark combined to go 4-for-7 with a walk, two runs and two RBIs against Taillon, including an RBI single by Roark.

Taillon’s worst stretch came in the fourth, when four straight singles, by the bottom of the order plus Trea Turner, produced two runs. That stretch won’t help to silence critics of the Pirates’ pitch selection; Taillon threw 18 pitches to those four hitters, of which 15 were fastballs. Taillon finished with seven hits and two walks allowed, and five strikeouts, over six innings.

The Pirates meanwhile were mostly overmatched against the underwhelming Roark. They had runners in scoring position only twice in the game. It took Taillon to get them on the board, belting a long double to left center that scored Jordy Mercer in the fifth. The only other run came when Corey Dickerson launched his third longball into the upper deck in right. Otherwise, the Pirates managed little else besides lots of weak contact, including six straight easy outs against the Nationals’ struggling bullpen. Josh Bell continued to cripple the team’s offense in the cleanup spot, going 0-for-4, with three routine ground outs and a popup.

The Pirates now face a far tougher task in the next two games, going against Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.