Home runs by Taylor Moore and Danny Espinosa helped the Washington Nationals overcome a rough start by lefthander Gi0 Gonzalez, taking down the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 at PNC Park on Sunday afternoon. The victory gave the Nationals (17-15) a 2-1 series win.
The day showed promise for the Bucs (17-14) as left fielder Starling Marte led off the bottom of the first with a first-pitch home run. Then, the Pirates proceded to load the bases with none out, as second baseman Jordy Mercer doubled, center fielder Andrew McCutchen reached on an error, and first baseman Gaby Sanchez reached base on a four-pitch walk.
However, it was for naught as third baseman Russell Martin struck out swinging, catcher Michael McKenry went down looking at strike three, and rightfielder Brandon Inge grounded out. The Nats’ Gonzalez had thrown 27 pitches in the first, but he still avoided diaster on the scoreboard.
Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman led off the second with a walk. First baseman Adam LaRoche’s double to right-center field put runners on second and third, and Espinosa’s sacrifice fly tied the score at 1-1.
In the fourth inning, it was Zimmerman who got the next round of scoring started with a leadoff single. He went to second on a balk, and then came around on Espinosa’s two-out home run.
Pittsburgh scored one more time, when Sanchez reached on an infield single that bounced off Gonzalez’s glove. Sanchez came home on Martin’s double to the wall, thus reducing the Nats’ lead to 3-2.
But Washington sealed the deal with three runs in the eighth inning off Pirates’ righthander Bryan Morris. Left fielder Roger Bernadina singled, LaRoche was intentionally walked, and Moore hit his first home run of the season.
Pirates’ starter Wandy Rodriguez put together a quality start on the mound, allowing three runs in six innings, but his pitch count reached 117 to do it. Rodriguez walked only one batter and struck out seven, but the lefthander pitched deep into counts, and worked around men on base for most of the day. Wandy’s record is now 2-2 on the season.
The Pirates are off on Monday with a two-game interleague series against the Seattle Mariners set for Tuesday and Wednesday at PNC Park.