Pirates take down Nationals, 8-4

WASHINGTON — The Pittsburgh Pirates improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1983, beating the Washington Nationals 8-4 on Monday with two run-scoring hits from Connor Joe, including a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth inning.

Michael A. Taylor, a former member of the Nationals, had three hits, and Bryan Reynolds, Andrew McCutchen, Alika Williams and Henry Davis delivered two apiece. Reynolds stretched his on-base streak to 33 consecutive games dating to last season with a first-inning single and tacked on a two-run double in the ninth.

“If we keep doing what we do, keep having competitive at-bats, we’re going to wear down some bullpens,” Joe said, “and it’s going to lead to some wins, for sure.”

Pittsburgh remained unbeaten in 2024, all on the road, following a four-game sweep of the Miami Marlins to begin the season. The Pirates were 76-86 last year.

They have scored at least six runs in each of the first five games of a season for the first time since at least 1900.

“Our guys just don’t give in. You really can’t put us away,” said Pirates starting pitcher Marco Gonzales. “That says a lot about the character of the hitters, for sure.”

Pittsburgh led 3-1 entering the seventh, but backup catcher Riley Adams — playing for the first time this season — tied the game for Washington by depositing a four-seam fastball 427 feet off reliever Roansy Contreras for a two-run homer. Contreras (1-0), though, got the win.

That’s because his teammates produced a three-run eighth off relievers Robert Garcia (0-1) and Matt Barnes. The big hit was Joe’s double to left that scored Taylor, who reached on a bunt. Ke’Bryan Hayes and McCutchen also drove in runs.

Aroldis Chapman got Lane Thomas to pop up for the final out with two men on, earning his first save of the season.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez had used his top two relievers, Kyle Finnegan and Hunter Harvey, in each of the past two games, so he stayed away from them in front of an announced sellout crowd of 40,405 for the club’s home opener on a gray, dreary afternoon with the temperature in the low 50s.

Neither starting pitcher factored in the decision. Gonzales, acquired from Atlanta via trade in December, allowed one run in five-plus innings in his Pirates debut. Washington’s MacKenzie Gore gave up three runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out six batters and hitting two — Joe and McCutchen.

Three of the loudest ovations during pregame introductions were showered on players no longer playing for Washington, which has finished last every year since its 2019 World Series title: Sean Doolittle and Geraldo Parra (of “Baby Shark” fame) — who are both now Nationals coaches — and Taylor, who drove in Pittsburgh’s first run with a sacrifice fly.

“To be able to come back here and get that kind of welcome was special,” Taylor said. “I really appreciated it. I wasn’t expecting anything. (But) I know what this place meant to me.”

The Nationals are 1-3.


Nationals: LF Jesse Winker exited after the first inning — when he did not have an at-bat or a play in the field — and was replaced by Eddie Rosario. Martinez said after the game that Winker had a stomach illness, as did reliever Jordan Weems, who was not available to pitch.


The series resumes Wednesday with Pirates RHP Mitch Keller facing Nationals RHP Trevor Williams.


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