Series: Game 1 of 3

Pittsburgh leads 1-0 (as of 7/14)

Game 1: Friday, July 14
Game 2: Saturday, July 15
Game 3: Sunday, July 16
in 11

Nationals 4

(38-53, 18-29 away)

Pirates 7

(31-60, 21-24 home)

    7:05 PM ET, July 14, 2006

    PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

    123456789 R H E
    WAS 011001010 4 10 2
    PIT 21011002 - 7 15 0

    W: Z. Duke (6-8)

    L: R. Ortiz (6-8)

    S: M. Gonzalez (14)

    Nats strand 12, fall to Pirates for fourth straight loss

    PITTSBURGH (AP) -- At least Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez know the rest of the time they spend with the Washington Nationals can't go much worse than this.

    Jason Bay drove in two runs and Jose Bautista homered among his three hits, helping the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 7-4 victory over the revamped but still-slumping Nationals on Friday night.

    The Nationals played their first game since making a number of moves during the All-Star break, including an eight-player deal that landed them Kearns, a starting outfielder, and Lopez, a shortstop, from the Cincinnati Reds.

    Both players were in the lineup, but the Nationals had a familiar problem while losing their fifth in six games: a lack of offense. They left 12 on base and Kearns and Lopez, after rushing to join a new team during the only break of the season, failed repeatedly to come through with runners in scoring position.

    "I don't know if frustrating is the right word but obviously I wanted to do better," said Kearns, who was 0-for-3 and left four on base. "But that's how it goes. That's the good thing about playing every day, you get another chance. It just didn't work out tonight."

    Kearns grounded out against reliever Matt Capps with the bases loaded and the Nationals down a run in the eighth. He also grounded out in the first to strand Alfonso Soriano, who had doubled to start the game.

    Lopez, 0-for-4 while leaving six on base, struck out to leave the bases loaded in the fourth after Pirates starter Zach Duke got himself into trouble by walking three. Duke threw only 49 of 91 pitches for strikes.

    "But you don't want to come to a conclusion after the first game," Lopez said. "There are a lot of ballgames left and we're going to do what we can, keep doing what we did before."

    It wasn't any better for Lopez in the field. His error for misplaying Ronny Paulino's line drive also led to a run in the third on Jack Wilson's sacrifice fly that put the Pirates up 3-1.

    "He kind of hit a knuckleball -- it was tough," Lopez said. "It kind of hit the side of my glove and popped out."

    Bay, going 3-for-4, didn't have a letdown after becoming the first Pirates position player to start an All-Star game in Pittsburgh since third baseman Bob Elliott in 1944. Bay went 1-for-3 in the All-Star game.

    To help give his two All-Stars a short break after they were under constant media and fan attention in Pittsburgh for days, manager Jim Tracy excused Bay and Freddy Sanchez from a Thursday workout.

    "There was a lot of buildup for the All-Star Game, almost since spring training," Bay said. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but I'm glad it's over. Sometimes it takes you a couple of games to get back into the baseball mode after the break, and sometimes you come out of the break lethargic."

    Duke (6-8) won for the first time in a month despite being pulled in the sixth inning. Fighting his control -- he walked four -- he gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings. Duke was 0-2 in five starts since beating St. Louis 9-7 on June 14.

    "I had spurts of inconsistency, and I've got to get through that," Duke said.

    The Pirates won only their second of seven games and fifth in 25 as Sanchez and Bay keyed a two-run first inning against Ramon Ortiz (6-8). Sanchez doubled and scored on Bay's single, and Sean Casey's double made it 2-0.

    "It was the difference in the game. They got some big hits with guys on and we didn't," Kearns said.

    Bautista hit his 11th homer on the second pitch of the fourth inning. Bay's third hit of the game, a double, followed Wilson's double in the fifth that made it 5-2. Wilson also had three hits.

    Washington scored in the sixth on two singles, a walk and reliever Salomon Torres' run-scoring wild pitch, but Lopez grounded out to leave runners on second and third.

    Torres wasn't charged with any runs in 1 1/3 innings despite throwing the run-scoring wild pitch. Mike Gonzalez pitched the ninth inning for his 14th save in as many opportunities after Roberto Hernandez gave up Soriano's RBI triple in the eighth.

    Nate McLouth added an RBI double in a two-run eighth against Reds reliever Jon Rauch.

    There were few visible reminders in PNC that the All-Star Game was played there three days before. The large star in center field was nearly invisible after the grass was cut in a different pattern, and all banners and signs were removed except for a large, lighted All-Star logo behind the stands in right.

    Game notes

    Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 13 games (22-for-53, .415). ... The Nationals have scored an NL-low 411 runs in 91 games. ... Washington has lost nine of 10 on the road. ... Ortiz is 1-4 in his last six starts.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press