Jason Bay, mired in a long slump, sat out his first game of the season.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Tom Gorzelanny improved his chances of being Pittsburgh’s All-Star representative, limiting Washington to two runs over 71⁄3 innings in another effective start, and Adam LaRoche drove in three runs in the Pirates’ 7-2 victory Saturday night.
The Nationals’ offense was about as effective against Gorzelanny (8-4) as was the planned fan protest by Pirates rooters unhappy with the club’s refusal to spend money to upgrade a team stuck in a 15th consecutive losing season.
Only a few thousand fans, if that, vacated their seats after the third inning and it appeared most returned quickly.
Maybe they didn’t want to miss a rare occurrence at PNC Park: an outbreak by the Pirates’ offense. LaRoche had a two-run double and Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez each had two-run singles in a six-run second inning against Jason Bergmann (1-5), putting Pittsburgh up 6-1.
A six-run inning and a baseball-perfect night with clear skies and temperatures in the high 70s may have combined to deaden the fans’ enthusiasm for the long-planned protest, which included a pregame rally chiding the ownership for refusing to spend money on free agents and upgrade the Pirates’ talent.
The Pirates’ big inning came in the first game left fielder Jason Bay has missed this season. Bay, whose average dropped 48 points in June, sat out his first game of the season amid his long slump. He has missed only four games in three seasons.
For the Nationals, it was another night of little offense and ineffective starting pitching. They have scored only seven runs during a five-game losing streak. Their only scoring Saturday came on Ronnie Belliard’s third homer, a solo shot in the sixth, and Dmitri Young’s RBI single — the first time in 19 games Washington has scored in the first inning.
The Nationals didn’t do much other than that against Gorzelanny, who has been a consistently good pitcher on a losing team all season. His 3.05 ERA is among the 10 lowest by NL starters, and the left-hander has allowed more than three earned runs only three times in 17 starts. Against Washington, he struck out six, walked three and gave up only one hit — Belliard’s homer — over his final 41⁄3 innings.