Washington Nationals Fall to Pirates in 18-Inning Marathon

Jul 17, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) high-fives teammates in the bullpen prior to the Nationals
Jul 17, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) high-fives teammates in the bullpen prior to the Nationals /

The Washington Nationals lost a marathon 18-inning affair, 2-1, to the Pittsburgh Pirates Sunday afternoon.

Both starters, Max Scherzer and Chad Khul, kept each team’s offense at bay, and the game was still scoreless headed to the top of the sixth, when the Pirates finally broke through. Adam Frazier led off the inning with a double, and with one out Pirates left fielder Starling Marte ripped an RBI double to left, scoring Frazier and making it 1-0.

Scherzer was able to work his way out of the inning, getting the final two outs and keeping it a one run game. In his final inning, Scherzer battled just like he did all day. After hitting Sean Rodriguez, the right-hander was in a two one, one out jam. Scherzer got John Jaso to pop out, then Frazier to fly out, ending an impressive outing.

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Although Max did not have the great strikeout stuff we are used to seeing, he kept the Nats in the game and battled throughout. His final line was seven innings, on six hits, one run, and seven strikeouts.

In the bottom of the seventh the Nationals got to the Pirates bullpen, and had their first real threat of the day against Neftali Feliz. With one out, Jayson Werth singled, and was followed by an opposite field single by Bryce Harper, setting up a big spot for Wislon Ramos. The Nationals catcher lined into a double play to second basemen Josh Harrison, ending the Nats threat.

Blake Treinen and Jonathan Papelbon posted two scoreless innings out of the bullpen, keeping the game 1-0 headed to the bottom of the ninth. The Nats would have to face Pirates closer Mark Melancon, who came into the game 27/28 in save opportunities this year.

After two quick outs, Dusty Baker went to Daniel Murphy to pinch hit for Ben Revere off his bench. Murphy, who had not played in two days, launched a huge game tying solo homer to right, evening the game at 1-1 and giving Melancon his second blown save of the year.

After Shawn Kelly worked out of a jam to keep it 1-1 in the top of the 10th, the Pirates brought in Arquimedes Caminero. The right hander threw eight straight balls, walking Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos and was pulled from the game. A.J. Schugel came in to face Clint Robinson in a huge jam. Robinson popped out to left, giving the Pirates a key first out. The next batter Stephen Drew hit into a 6-3 double play, sending the game to the 11th inning.

Both bullpens battled back and forth, keeping the game tied at 1-1 into the 16th inning. Felipe Rivero, in his third inning of work, walked Eric Fryer with two down. Next batter Josh Harrison ripped a double off the wall, but an outstanding relay from Michael Taylor and Danny Espinosa cut down Fryer at the plate, keeping it tied at 1-1.

In the 18th inning the Pirates finally broke through. Starling Marte hit a solo homer, finally breaking the tie, and giving Pittsburg the 2-1 lead. The Nationals were unable to score in the bottom of the inning as Danny Espinosa struck out with two men on, giving the Pirates the 2-1 victory.

Next: Washington Nationals Trade Target: Carlos Beltran

Next Game: The Washington Nationals (56-37) will return to action Tuesday night when they take on the Los Angeles Dodgers (52-41) at Nationals Park at 7:05 E.T. PM. Scott Kazmir (7-3 4.52) will get the ball for the Dodgers, and the Nationals starter has not yet been announced. You can catch the game on MASN.