Streaking Pirates hand Nationals sixth straight loss

WASHINGTON -- When the Washington Nationals rallied to tie the Pittsburgh Pirates in the ninth, all it did was allow them to continue the type of losing streak experienced by few others in major league history.

Pittsburgh, almost predictably, countered with Adam LaRoche's two-out, two-run double in the 10th. The Pirates won 8-5 on Tuesday night for their season-high fourth straight victory, while the Nationals became only the fourth team ever to construct a six-game losing streak in which they scored at least five runs every time.

"We continue to put runs on the board," Washington manager Manny Acta said. "This is the 10th game in a row where we score five or more runs -- and we're 1-9. That tells you the story right now."

The unusual six-game skid matches those by the 1929 Pirates, 2004 Cincinnati Reds and 2005 Texas Rangers, according to STATS, LLC. The Nationals are averaging 5.7 runs in those six games, but they've allowed 8.8.

Here's a more startling statistic: With Joe Beimel (0-3) taking the loss, the Nationals bullpen now has a record of 1-14. No wonder Acta and his hitters rue the fact that they had the winning run on second base with one out in the ninth and failed to get him home.

"We've got to come up with big hits, myself included, especially the way things are going for us," said Willie Harris, who struck out for the final out of the ninth. "We had a chance to win the game right there, and now I've got to think about that for tonight and until I get another opportunity to do it again."

Actually, this was a battle of the bullpens the Nationals could have won. The Pirates gave closer Matt Capps the night off, so Sean Burnett was given the first save opportunity of his major league career. He blew it by allowing the run in the ninth, so Tom Gorzelanny (1-0) -- making only his fifth relief appearance in 156 games in the majors and minors -- pitched 1 1/3 innings to get the victory.

"It was definitely surprising," said Gorzelanny, recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday. "It was good. I'm glad we got a win and I got out there."

Starter Jeff Karstens allowed four runs over six innings and Andy LaRoche homered for the Pirates, who blew a 5-0 lead. The Nationals rallied with Adam Dunn's homer in the fourth and three runs in the sixth. Nick Johnson tied the game when he scored on Burnett's wild pitch after hitting a triple with one out in the ninth.

But the Pirates, averaging 9.5 runs in their last four games, had some more offense in the tank.

"We came in with hopes to take this series, definitely," Adam LaRoche said. "On the other hand, I know they're thinking the same thing, 'Oh, the Pirates are coming in, this will be a good time to get on track.' It showed tonight neither team is going to lay down, but this is a good opportunity for us to get something going."

Game notes
Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman reached safely for the 37th consecutive game, keeping his streak alive with a bunt single in the sixth. ... Nationals center fielder Elijah Dukes (hamstring) was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game. ... Ross Detwiler (five innings, three runs) did enough in his first major league start Monday night that the Nationals will start him again Saturday against Baltimore. ... Washington leadoff hitter Cristian Guzman, who had 122 plate appearances before drawing his first walk Monday night, got another one Tuesday.