" Tough luck: Nats starter Matt Chico gave up just six hits over six innings of work and didn't allow a run. Washington's bullpen wasn't as lucky, combining for 1 2/3 innings and three earned runs.
" Rough stretch: The Nationals have been limited to five runs while losing four in a row. They have dropped five of six and 10 of 13.
" Quotable: "But give credit to the good pitching we've faced: Tim Hudson, John Smoltz and Ian Snell, a guy nobody talks about but is fifth in the league in ERA." -- Dmitri Young on the tough pitching the Nats have faced
-- ESPN.com news services
Pirates 3, Nationals 2
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- When the Washington Nationals aren't scoring
much, there's not much margin for error no matter the opponent.
Even if it's the Pittsburgh Pirates, who may be figuring out how to
win close games.
Jose Bautista's second sacrifice fly of the game drove in the
winning run in the ninth inning and the Pirates rallied from two
runs down to beat the slumping Nationals 3-2 on Friday night.
The Nationals have been limited to five runs while losing four
in a row. They haven't scored more than four runs while dropping
seven of nine, and they've also lost 10 of 13.
"Again, we needed to score more runs," manager Manny Acta
said. "We were leading 2-0 in the seventh but couldn't finish it.
... It should tell every one of our guys we need to get it going
offensively. It's that simple. It's easier said than done, but we
need to score more runs."
Ronny Paulino started the ninth with a single to left against
Jon Rauch (3-2), who retired all three batters he faced in the
eighth. Jack Wilson followed by bunting Paulino up, with first
baseman Dmitri Young pausing to look at second before deciding to
take the certain out at first base.
Rauch's first pitch to Nate McLouth bounced away from catcher
Brian Schneider for a wild pitch, sending Paulino to third and
bringing in pinch-runner Jose Castillo. After Acta ordered McLouth
intentionally walked, pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit walked on a 3-2
pitch that was slightly outside to load the bases with one out.
"I just had an off night, that's the easiest way to explain
it," Rauch said. "I didn't do my job. I couldn't get ahead of
hitters and then you have to come in with a pitch. ... I put us in
a bad situation and it's my fault."
Bautista worked the count to 3-0 before hitting a full-count
pitch to left against a drawn-in outfield, allowing Castillo to
score easily. Bautista got his fourth RBI in three games on what he
felt was ball four, but he didn't dare risk not swinging the bat.
"I wasn't thinking about hitting a sacrifice fly, I was hoping
to put the ball in play and make something happen and I did,"
Bautista said. "The pitch was up and in. Maybe it was a little
close -- I think it definitely would have been called a ball. But
the last thing you want to do is strike out looking."
Matt Capps (4-4) worked a scoreless ninth for the victory. The
Pirates have won a pair of one-run games and another in 10 innings
during their last four games following two extra-inning losses
during a three-game sweep by the Angels last weekend.
"This feels good, especially after losing those two games,"
Capps said. "We won a tight one before it goes to extra innings
and hopefully we can feed off this."
The Nationals, held to three runs during a three-game sweep by
Atlanta earlier this week, took the lead on Ryan Langerhans' solo
homer in the third and Felipe Lopez's sacrifice fly in the seventh,
with both runs coming against Ian Snell. Young singled for
his second hit of the game and Snell hit Austin Kearns with a pitch
ahead of Lopez's one-out sacrifice fly.
Lopez's RBI was his first in eight games and came in his first
game batting seventh this season.
"We're frustrated when we don't score more runs," Young said.
"But give credit to the good pitching we've faced: Tim Hudson,
John Smoltz and Ian Snell, a guy nobody talks about but is fifth in
the league in ERA."
Despite not getting the decision, Snell bounced back from his
worst start all season by holding Washington to five hits and two
runs over seven innings. In his previous start, Snell -- pitching
for the first time since burning a hand while cooking -- gave up
five runs and 10 hits over six innings during a 10-1 loss to the
Snell is 6-5, but his 2.90 ERA gives him an outside chance of
making the NL All-Star team.
"I think I'm worthy of consideration," Snell said. "I'd
obviously love to go."
The Pirates, coming off a 3-6 road trip, were shut out for six
innings by Matt Chico in his second effective start against them
this month. But they needed only four batters to tie it at 2 in the
seventh against Saul Rivera.
McLouth's triple to the right field wall, which Kearns had in
his glove but couldn't hold, scored Wilson. Bautista's followed
with a one-out sacrifice fly.
Langerhans' fourth homer was Washington's first in six
games. Washington has gone five games without homering three times
this season... Chico, winless in eight starts since May 17, gave up
two runs while pitching a career-best seven innings in his other
start against Pittsburgh, on June 7. ... McLouth was 5-for-33
(.152) as a pinch-hitter until he tripled.