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Pirates score early and often to down Nats 6-3

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MLB: Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates scored three in first and three again in the second off Washington’s rookie pitcher Jefry Rodriguez en route to a resounding 6-3 victory, extending their winning streak to two games.

Gregory Polanco drove in four of those six runs on a single and his 13th homerun of the season. Rodriguez was greeted by a Corey Dickerson single to right and Starling Marte double to left to open the first inning. Polanco kept it going by poking a grounder through the shift and into center for a two-run single. After stealing second, he scored on Colin Moran’s ground double inside third.

The Pirates started it all over again in the second when Max Moroff led off with a walk, went to second on Ivan Nova’s sacrifice bunt, and scored on Corey Dickerson’s tripled lined to deep right-center. After Starling Marte struck out on high heat, Polanco turned one around for a majestic drive deep into the right field stands, giving the Pirates a 6-1 lead.

Rodriguez gutted out three more scoreless innings in an effort to keep his team in the contest. Meanwhile Nova improved a bit from his start last week, this time only allowing two homeruns, both to left-handed batters (Juan Soto and Bryce Harper), but both solo shots.

The the good bullpen arrived, with Richard Rodriguez, Edgar Santana and Felipe Vazquez slamming the door shut over the final three innings, striking out six of the eleven batters they faced. Rodriguez retired four in a row, two on strikes. Santana came on for the eighth and fanned all three. After Bryce Harper whiffed at a slider for strike two, he turned to the camera and could be seen to say “Oh my gosh!” Then he returned to the box and got the same pitch and same result for strike three.

Felipe wasn’t quite as immaculate in the ninth. Daniel Murphy led off with a looping single to left, but Michael A. Taylor swung awkwardly at an outside fastball for the first out. After Matt Witers lined a single to left, Mark Reynolds, who was 8-for-10 over the weekend including a ten RBI game, came on as a pinch-hitter, representing the tying run. After running the count to 3-2, Reynolds hit a sharp grounder right to Jordy Mercer at short for an easy 6-4-3 double play to end the game.

The series continues tomorrow as Washington’s Jeremy Hellickson (2-1, 3.81) faces Joe Musgrove (3-3, 3.79), fresh off the disabled list, missing one start for an infected finger.