Pittsburgh collected nine of their eleven hits in a three inning span to beat Livan Hernandez and the Washington Nationals.
The first two innings were silent. Nationals rookie Danny Espinosa led off the third inning with a dinger off Zach Duke to start the scoring. Pittsburgh answered in the bottom of the third. Ronny Cedeno led off with a double against Hernandez. Duke sacrificed successfully. Small ball tied it when Andrew McCutchen lofted a sac fly to score Cedeno. Jose Tabata kept the inning alive with a two out single. Neil Walker drew a BB and Garrett Jones delivered a clutch two out, two run double.
Ryan Doumit hit a homer leading off the fourth inning to push the lead to 4-1. Tabata started a fifth inning rally with a one out single. Walker singled and Jones doubled again, plating Tabata. Pedro Alvarez doubled and two more runs scored. Hernandez was pulled and Miguel Batista entered. Doumit singled in Alvarez to make it 8-1. Pittsburgh would manage only two singles for the rest of the game.
Duke breezed through five innings but wouldn’t record an out in the sixth. Ian Desmond walked. Ryan Zimmerman singled and Adam Dunn’s single scored Desmond. After Michael Morse walked, Duke left and Sean Gallagher relieved. He got Ivan Rodriguez to ground into a run scoring double play, erasing Dunn from the bases. But Justin Maxwell singled in Morse and Espinosa doubled scoring Morse. Washington pulled to within 8-5 with three of the four runs being charged to Duke.
John Russell used five pitchers to get the last nine outs. It worked those five combined to give up just one hit and no runs.
Duke went five plus and was charged with four runs. He struck out five and walked three. Hernandez only lasted 4-1/3. He gave up eight hits and eight runs.
Jones drove in three runs with two doubles.
Doumit was a triple shy of the cycle and knocked in two.
Walker’s hitting streak is at 10 games.
Alvarez did not strike out.
Duke has won his last two decisions.
Alvarez committed his 11th error. He’d be the league leader at that pace had he been up all year.
Duke is 2-2 against Washington. Hernandez is 5-5 in his career against Pittsburgh. In his first start against the Pirates in 1997, the Pirates starting lineup looked like this:
Tony Womack – 2B
Jermaine Allensworth – CF
Al Martin – LF
Eddie Williams – 1B
Joe Randa – 3B
Jason Kendall – C
Jose Guillen – RF
Kevin Polcovich – SS
Jason Schmidt – P
Buc pitchers combined for double digit whiffs for just the tenth time all year. But they have struck out nine or more in six of the last seven games.
Former Pirate ‘Mad’ Nyjer Morgan was 0-4 and will likely be missing a couple of weeks of games as the result of a couple of recent incidents.
Newcomer John Bowker made his first start and was hitless in three at bats. He is 0-4 as a Pirate.