Tonight's Top 5:
5. Leadoff Man?: Nyjer Morgan's had me convinced he's more of an 8-spot hitter than a leadoff man this season, and that was before Jim Riggleman moved him down in the order recently, but in the first at bat of the game this afternoon he plays the top-of-the-order role perfectly, working the count full against Pittsburgh's starter, Charlie Morton, and fouling off two pitches before shooting an opposite field single through short into left for the first hit of the game. In spite of his 15 CS, Morgan's still a threat on the basepaths, and the Pirates' starter throws over but by first baseman Garrett Jones, who gets a glove on the pickoff throw but can't make the catch. Morgan takes second. A sac bunt by Ian Desmond and an RBI groundout by Ryan Zimmerman follow and it's 1-0 Nats before the Bucs come up to bat. In his second at bat, Morgan takes a one-out walk in the third, then steals second, beating the throw, but he overslides the bag and he's tagged out by an attentive Ronny Cedeno. The good and bad of Nyjer Morgan on display. Ian Desmond doubles to left center in the next AB, should be 2-0, still 1-0 Nats after two and a half.
4. SHAKE N BAKE!! SHAKE N BAKE!!!: Adam Dunn puts the Nats up 2-0 with his 34th HR of the year to start the fourth. Dunn sends an OPPO-BOPPO blast out to left and into the second deck, 2-0 Nats. Roger Bernadina singles on a line drive to left, and Michael Morse makes it three-straight hits with a line drive to right. Adam Kennedy gets a grounder by Garrett Jones at first, Bernadina scores, 3-0 Nats. Wilson Ramos singles, and his first hit as a National loads the bases. Jason Marquis grounds to first, and the Pirates take the force at home. One down. Nyjer Morgan K's on three pitches. Ian Desmond up with two down, and he comes through with a single to second, too deep in the hole for Neil Walker to make the play, 4-0 Nats. Ryan Zimmerman gets a grounder through the middle of the infield, two runs score, 6-0 Nationals.
3. Pedro Alvarez Hits One Out Of PNC: The Pittsburgh Pirates' '08 1st Round pick, Pedro Alvarez, taken second overall behind the Rays' Tim Beckham, has 10 HR's in 246 at bats in this, his rookie campaign, but I doubt any have gone as far as the one he hits off Nats' right-hander Jason Marquis to lead off the fourth. Marquis, who's been getting hit hard all afternoon when he's left pitches up, hangs a letter-high slider to the Pirates' slugger, who hits it 430-440 ft to straight center, over the stands and onto the walkway. Lord. 6-1 Nats.
2. RISP...Not FAIL?: Ryan Zimmerman's RBI single through short in the Nats' sixth scores Nyjer Morgan from second after the Nationals' leadoff man worked a two-out walk out of Bucs' right-hander Joe Martinez, and Ian Desmond reached safely on an error by Bucs' third baseman Pedro Alvarez. The Bucs' 3rd error of the game leads to the Nats' 7th run, 7-1, and 8-1 when Garrett Jones misses a sharp grounder from Adam Dunn that scores Desi. The Nats are 5-12 with RISP through six innings, and Marquis gets a 1-2-3 sixth to preserve the seven-run lead.
1. How Ya Doin'?: In Jason Marquis' introductory press conference last winter, MLB.com's Bill Ladson, as is tradition, began the question and answer period of the festivities:
Bill Ladson: "Jason, Bill Ladson from MLB.com..."
Marquis: "How ya doin?"
The native New Yorker, hasn't been doing well for most of this season, but in his last two starts he's shown signs of life. Marquis gets hit hard, but not much comes of it for the Pirates this afternoon. 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER on 1 HR, 0 walks, 2 K's, 8 groundouts, 6 flyouts and 91 pitches thrown, 63 for strikes. In his last 4 starts, Marquis has allowed just 6 ER after having given up 28 ER in his first 6 starts this season. Marquis wins his second-straight start after starting the season (0-7). The Nationals take the season series from the Pirates 5 games to 1 and tie their season win total from last season in 137 games.
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• Final Score: Nats 8, Pirates 1.
Nationals now 59-78.