The absence of three of the team’s best hitters is becoming more and more apparent everyday for the Nationals as the lineup continues to struggle with runners in scoring position. Friday night was no exception for the Nationals as the team was unable to take advantage of several opportunities to tie the game or take the lead and lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3.
Jordan Zimmermann got the start for the Nationals and was once again shaky early on, allowing four runs to score by the fourth inning. The Nationals right-hander ended the night with four earned runs over six innings of work while walking two batters and striking out four.
The Pirates took the lead early in the game when an RBI groundout by Starling Marte in the bottom of the second inning made it a 1-0 game. Pittsburgh made it a two-run game later in the inning when a wild pitch by Zimmermann allowed Russel Martin to score from third base. Unfortunately for Zimmermann and the Nationals, the Pirates weren’t finished. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Pedro Alvarez crushed a changeup from Zimmermann over the wall in centerfield for a two-run homer, making it a 4-0 Pirates lead.
While the Nationals were in a hole, they had several opportunities to get back into the game, the biggest of which came in the top of the sixth inning when the Nationals loaded the bases with no outs against Pirates starter Charlie Morton. But Washington was once again unable to produce in a key situation and settled for one run on a sacrifice fly by Gregg Dobbs.
Washington made it close in the top of the eighth inning when a sacrifice fly by Scott Hairston made it a 4-3 game. The Nationals cut the Pirates’ lead to just one run later in the inning when Kevin Frandsen scored on a passed ball. But that was all the damage the Nationals’ offense would manage and the Pirates won game two of the series, 4-3.
With Friday’s loss, the Nationals have fallen back to .500 and are riding a three-game losing streak.