Nationals rally past Pirates to salvage split of four-game series

PITTSBURGH -- Tyler Clippard might not have been the difference-maker in the Washington Nationals' 8-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night. He did provide the turning point that allowed sluggers Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman to fill that role.

Clippard got out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fifth inning and Dunn and Zimmerman homered in the next two innings as Washington rallied from a 3-0 deficit to salvage a split of the four-game series between last-place teams.

"It really takes a little wind out of your sails when you've got the bases loaded and nobody out and don't score, and it pumps the other team up a little bit," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "We were able to turn the game around from that point."

Cristian Guzman had two hits and two RBIs for Washington, which won the last two games after a four-game losing streak.

Andrew McCutchen homered for the fourth time in three games and Ryan Doumit went 3-for-5 for the Pirates, who have lost seven of nine.

Mike MacDougal earned his eighth save by getting Delwyn Young, the only batter he faced, to ground out with two runners on.

Clippard (2-1) earned the win with three hitless innings of relief of Garrett Mock, who allowed 12 baserunners through four-plus innings while the Nationals only advanced one runner past first base through the first five innings against Charlie Morton.

The Pirates had taken a 3-0 lead in the first but failed to add on despite loading the bases in the second and fifth innings.

Clippard got out of his jam by getting Young to hit a comebacker double play and Andy LaRoche to pop out.

"That could have changed the game around," McCutchen said. "That was pretty much the biggest key for us, really. You figure you're getting one run from out of that inning and hope for two so you take a 5-0 lead."

Clippard said he approached the situation "with the mentality of not letting anybody score."

"That's not always easy with nobody out and the bases loaded, but I was trying to get a strikeout there," he said. "Luckily, it was a chopper back to me, and we were able to turn two, which is way better."

Washington got to Morton (2-4) the next inning when Dunn hit a 2-1 pitch just inside the foul pole in left about six rows back for a three-run homer, his 27th of the season, that gave the Nationals a 4-3 lead.

"I was kind of sitting on a pitch, and I got totally the opposite of what I was sitting on," Dunn said. "I have no idea how I hit it out. I just was late; that's why it went over there. By no means was it a good piece of hitting; it was very good pitching. If I'm not sitting on changeup and I'm sitting on fastball there, I probably pull it into a double play "

Morton allowed all four of his runs and four of his six hits in the sixth.

"It was just a bad -- a really bad -- inning," Morton said.

"Hopefully that's a learning experience for him," Pirates manager John Russell said, "to maintain and get through that inning."

Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens struck out the first two hitters of the seventh but allowed the next six hitters to reach base with four of them scoring. Guzman had an RBI triple, Zimmerman hit a two-run homer, his 21st, and Elijah Dukes added an RBI single to make it 8-3.

"You're not going to win too many games giving up eight runs after the sixth inning," Russell said.

For the second time in three days, McCutchen led off the bottom of the first with a home run. On Saturday, McCutchen became the only rookie in Pirates history to hit three homers in a game.

Steve Pearce had an RBI single and Young had a run-scoring fielder's choice in the first for Pittsburgh.

Making his fourth start of the season and seventh of his career, Mock was charged with three runs -- two earned -- seven hits and four walks in four-plus innings.

Game notes
Doumit, the Pirates' cleanup hitter, drove in a run with a double in the ninth, his second RBI since July 23. ... Dunn went 3-for-4 -- a triple short of the cycle -- for his fifth three-hit game of the season. ... Guzman has at least two hits and an RBI in nine of his past 10 games. He has a 10-game hitting streak. ... Washington committed three errors.