Pittsburgh Pirates Win Series Opener Against The Nationals

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 09: Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates rounds third after hitting a two run home run in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at PNC Park on July 9, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 09: Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates rounds third after hitting a two run home run in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at PNC Park on July 9, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates have won two games in a row – yay!

Final. 3. 90. 6. 4

Following a 6-3 victory over the Washington Nationals on Monday night the Pittsburgh Pirates are now 42-48 this season. The team’s second win in a row improves their record on their current 11-game homestand to 2-2.

Playing in front of a national audience on ESPN the Pirates got out to a quick start on Monday night and never looked back.

Pirate manager Clint Hurdle decided to bat his three outfielders in the top three spots in his Monday night lineup. This decision would prove to work brilliantly for Hurdle as the team’s outfielders went 5-for-11 with two walks, a double, a triple, a home run, and two stolen bases on Monday night.

Facing struggle Washington rookie Jefry Rodriguez the Pirate offense was able to build a big early lead.

Corey Dickerson singled to start the game, Starling Marte doubled, Gregory Polanco singled, and the Bucs had a 2-0 lead. After Polanco stole second, he scored on a Colin Moran double. This gave the Bucs a 3-0 lead after an inning of play. 

PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 09: Corey Dickerson #12 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates after scoring on a two RBI single in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at PNC Park on July 9, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 09: Corey Dickerson #12 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates after scoring on a two RBI single in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at PNC Park on July 9, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Leading off the bottom of the 2nd inning Max Moroff drew a walk. He would score on a one out triple by Dickerson. Then with two outs, Polanco launched a 415-foot blast to right field. 

Polanco’s 13th home run of the season gave the Pirates a 6-1 lead. 

For a second consecutive start Ivan Nova struggled with the home run ball. After allowing a single game team record five home runs in his last start, Nova was tagged for two more on Monday night.

Nova allowed a solo home run to Juan Soto in the top of the 4th inning and a solo home run to Bryce Harper in the top of the 6th inning. In 5 2/3 innings pitched, Nova allowed three runs on eight hits, two home runs, no walks, and he punched out five.

When Nova exited the game with two outs in the top of the 6th inning and a runner on second base he was replaced by Richard Rodriguez. On top of getting the final out of the inning, Rodriguez retired the Nationals in order in the top of the 7th inning to keep the Pirate lead 6-3.

Edgar Santana replaced Rodriguez in the top of the 8th inning and was dominant. Santana faced the Nats’ two, three, and four hitters and he struck all three of them out. He also needed just 11 pitches to do so. Quietly, Santana has turned into a shutdown reliever this season.

In the 9th inning things got a little hairy.

For a third consecutive day Felipe Vazquez was called upon and his inning went anything but smoothly. Vazquez allowed a pair of singles and found himself facing Mark Reynolds with runners on first and second with just one out. However, Vazquez got Reynolds to hit into a game ending 6-4-3 double play.

Monday night was a big night for the two players that a local Pittsburgh sports radio host dubbed ‘liabilities’ earlier in the day – Marte and Polanco. Marte went 1-for-3 with a walk, a double, two stolen bases, and his 9th outfield assist of the season. Polanco finished the game with two hits, a walk, a stolen base, his team leading 13th home run, and 4 RBI. 

Next: Travis MacGregor Is Turning Into A Top Pitching Prospect

Game two of this series is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday night. The Pirates plan to activate Joe Musgrove off the disabled list prior to Tuesday games while the Nats will counter with veteran righty Jeremy Hellickson.

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