Pirates defeat reeling Nationals
Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano did not allow a hit until the sixth inning against a struggling and depleted Nationals lineup, and Pedro Alvarez homered off an otherwise-dominant Stephen Strasburg, leading Pittsburgh past Washington, 4-2, Wednesday night.
The Nationals fell to 0-6 since the All-Star break — scoring a grand total of 13 runs in that span — and have lost 11 of their last 13.
Already the owner of one previous no-hitter, Liriano (10-4) walked the first batter he faced, then retired 11 in a row before another walk. Five more outs followed, before rookie Anthony Rendon reached on what was ruled an infield single with two away in the sixth.
Third baseman Alvarez dove to his left to stop the ball, but it popped out of his glove, and he couldn’t quite corral it. The next batter walked, but Liriano struck out Jayson Werth looking to end the inning.
The Nationals wasted an exceptional outing from Strasburg (5-8), who struck out 12 and did not walk anyone in eight innings. He gave up only one run and two hits, all in the second inning. That included the leadoff shot by Alvarez, who drove a 96 mph fastball over the wall in right-center for his 26th homer.
It was Strasburg’s ninth career game with 10 or more strikeouts and first this season.
The Pirates tacked on three runs in the ninth against relievers Drew Storen and Fernando Abad, thanks to Neil Walker’s RBI double and Michael McKenry’s two-run single. That became pivotal when Werth hit a two-run shot, his 15th homer of the year, off reliever Justin Wilson in the bottom of the ninth. Werth is seemingly the only Nationals batter capable of producing at the moment; he’s hit five homers in the past four games.
Wilson was replaced by Mark Melancon, who got the last three outs to earn his third save — ending with a double play on which second baseman Walker appeared to miss on his attempted tag of runner Wilson Ramos.