Three home runs, a pair of career milestones, and it was the Washington Nationals who came out on top in a 7-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night. The win, coupled with Atlanta’s loss against Miami, put Washington back in first place in the NL East. At 14-5 they also have the second best home record in the National League.
Pittsburgh starter Erik Bedard pitched a decent game, allowing four earned runs on a walk and six hits while striking out seven. The trio of solo home runs, however, were what did him in. Ian Desmond started things off with a shot to left field in the 3rd inning, putting the Nationals up 2-0. In the 6th, Adam LaRoche and Xavier Nady hit back-to-back shots, making it a 4-1 lead.
Gio Gonzalez did the rest, pitching another masterful game for the Nationals and upping his record on the season to 5-1. He struck out 10 batters over the outing, giving him 60 on the season and the NL lead over teammate Stephen Strasburg (who has 56). Over seven innings of work Gonzalez only gave up four hits and two walks, but the base runners did come in bunches and all with Pirates third baseman Josh Harrison at the plate.
In the 5th inning Harrison came to bat with Yamaico Navarro and Rod Barajas on base. Navarro had walked to leadoff the inning and moved to third on Barajas’ single to right. After a Clint Barmes strikeout, Harrison would single to center to score Navarro. Harrison added a pair of RBI later in the game, hitting a two-out, two-run home run to left center in the 7th.
Nady’s home run in the 6th inning was the 100th of his career. His first was back in 2003 as a member of the San Diego Padres, a solo shot off of Damian Moss, then pitching for the San Francisco Giants. His single season career high is 25 during the 2008 season. 36 of his career total came during his tenure with the Pirates, from 2006 until July 2008.
LaRoche, one of Nady’s teammates in Pittsburgh and here again with Washington, added Washington’s final three runs with an 8th inning double that scored Jesus Flores, Bryce Harper, and Ryan Zimmerman. It also marked the 1,000th hit of LaRoche’s career, a milestone he didn’t even realize he had reached until seeing it on the scoreboard in center field. He promptly tipped his cap to the 25,000 plus that were in attendance.
Champ of the Game: LaRoche, who’s offensive resurgence has been vital to the team’s success thus far on the season considering the injuries this team has been forced to deal with. After going 3 for 4 on the game with four RBI he is now leading the team with a .339 batting average, 7 HR, and 29 RBI.
Harrison gets the nod for Pittsburgh, as he accounted for two of the team’s four hits on the day and drove in three of their runs.
Chump of the Game: There’s no easy choice here, especially going off just the box score, but someone has to take the honor. Tyler Moore did go 0 for 3 at the plate, though he at least put the ball in play each at bat.