The Pittsburgh Pirates dropped the series finale of the four game series against the Washington Nationals on Thursday night by a score of 7-1. After the win, the Nats take the series 3-1 and with an overall combined score of 32-6. The Pirates scored their lone run off of starter Max Scherzer, and it was actually the Washington bullpen that kep the Pirates offense quiet from the fifth inning on.
Bucs lefty starter Steven Brault got off to a rough start, as he allowed a leadoff double to Trea Turner who came around to score on a bunt single by Adam Eaton and an error by Josh Bell. Anthony Rendon also doubled, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Brault battled back a bit, striking out Juan Soto and getting Howie Kendrick to ground out, though Eaton scored on the play. A two-out Kurt Suzuki lineout ended the top of the first with the Nationals up 2-0.
The Pirates struggled to get things going against Scherzer in the first two innings, but Adam Frazier came through in the bottom of the third with a solo home run to right field. That would be the only run Mad Max allowed in his limited four innings of work due to a pitch count, though the veteran did allow four total hits and a walk.
Squid Brault calmed down quickly after the rough first inning, and he threw five more scoreless innings to finish with a respectable line and a quality start, his second in a row. Richard Rodriguez continued his impressive stretch, pitching a clean seventh inning. Meanwhile Wander Suero and Hunter Strickland combined for three scoreless innings, blanking the Pirates through the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings.
Chris Stratton took over for the Pirates in the top of the eighth inning with the score still 2-1, but things unwraveled quickly. Rendon struck out to start the inning, but Soto worked a one-out walk, and Kendrick followed it up with a two-run bomb to left center field. Stratton got the second out on a fly ball, but the bottom of the Nats order went double, single, stolen base, single to score two more runs and make the count 6-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth.
After another clean relief frame, this time from Fernando Rodney, the Nationals tacked on one more run off of Stratton on another home run, this time by Rendon, his 28th of the season. The struggling righty went on to load the bases, but got out of the jam to keep the score at 7-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Javy Guerra allowed a two-out single to Kevin Newman, but was otherwise effective, locking down the second win in a row for the Nats. The Pirates fall to 52-75 on the year, while Washington nabs their 70th win of the season. The Bucs will stay at home for a weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds starting on Friday night at 7:05 pm Eastern. Young starter Mitch Keller is expected to take the mound against fellow righty Anthony DeSclafani.