Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Ian Desmond, Yunel Escobar Bright Spots in Nats Loss

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Jul 24, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos (40) reacts after being hit by a foul ball against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals had to have entered Friday’s game feeling pretty good about their chances. After all, they had their ace, Max Scherzer on the mound, and the last time he had faced off against the Pirates, he walked away with a no-hitter, and a fluke hit-by-pitch away from a perfect game. All the Nats would seemingly need to do was push across a couple of runs, and they would be in prime position to earn a split after two games at PNC Park.

Unfortunately, baseball rarely goes the way the way it’s predicted to go. Scherzer ended up pitching one of his worst games of the season, giving up three home runs for the first time since 2011 over five innings, and the Nationals bullpen ended up once again surrendering runs in a key situation. By the time the dust had cleared, the Pirates were raising the Jolly Roger, and the Nationals had dropped their fifth game of their last eight since the All Star break.

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But while the Nationals continue to struggle with their replacements as they wait for their starters to return from the disabled list, there are a few positive takeaways from Friday’s game. For one, the Mets lost again, and the Nats lead in the NL East remains at three games.

There were also a couple of bright spots in Pittsburgh. While Washington failed to secure a split of their first two games against the Pirates, they still managed to put five runs on the board for just the third time since the break. And, to top it all off, they got a little more good news relating to two of their key infielders.

Next: Ian Desmond's Continued Improvement