Pittsburgh Pirates Falter Late, Lose Close One to Nationals

Michael Nitti

Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen blew a late lead on Saturday evening, losing 3-2 to Washington Nationals. The series is now even heading into tomorrow’s game.

Having won on Friday night in extra innings, the Pittsburgh Pirates were on their way to clinching this road series against the Nationals before letting a late lead slip away.

Chris Archer toed the rubber for the Buccos, and in his 13th start since being traded from the Tampa Bay Rays, today may have been his most impressive outing. Over seven innings of work, the Raleigh, NC native struck out nine while allowing just one run on four hits and two walks.

Offensively, the lineup mostly struggled against veteran Anibal Sanchez. However, in the top of the fourth, after a Josh Bell triple, last night’s hero, Colin Moran, came up big once again with an RBI double to put the Pirates up 1-0.

In the ensuing bottom half of the inning, that lead was quickly squashed, as Anthony Rendon doubled to lead off the frame, and was eventually singled home by Kurt Suzuki to tie the game up 1-1.

From that point on, Archer went into cruise control, facing the minimum nine batters over the next three innings to finish off his strong performance, lowering his season ERA to an impressive 2.00.

Archer was in line for the win thanks to a solo HR by Melky Cabrera in the top of the sixth that put the Pirates up 2-1. For Cabrera, it was one of three hits he had on the day and his first HR in black and gold.

Having blown three leads already this season, Keone Kela was not called upon for his usual eighth inning slot. Instead, manager Clint Hurdle opted for Richard Rodriguez, who hadn’t allowed a hit or a run in his last five appearances. But that would not be the case for Saturday.

Rodriguez was able to retire the first two batters of the inning, but proceeded to lose a nine-pitch battle to Adam Eaton, who launched his first HR of the season to tie the score at 2-2. On the immediate next pitch, Howie Kendrick also went yard, smacking his second HR of the season, putting the Nats on top 3-2.

The Pirates threatened in the top of the ninth, getting a runner as far as second base with one out, but ultimately failed to score against closer Sean Doolittle, who recorded his first save of the season to defeat the Pirates 3-2.

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In tomorrow’s rubber match, it’ll be a battle of aces as Jameson Taillon will face off against three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. at Nationals Park.