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Pirates 3-1 over Nationals in series opener in PNC: Blake Treinen solid, but little support

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Andrew McCutchen didn't have the usual big night he does against the Washington Nationals, but a bases-loaded HBP and an RBI single by the Pittsburgh Pirates' outfielder were enough to make the difference in the Bucs' 3-1 win over the Nats in PNC.

Justin K. Aller

PNC Park Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: A two-out walk to the opposing pitcher, Edinson Volquez, a single by Josh Harrison and another free pass to Neil Walker loaded the bases in the Pittsburgh Pirates' third, and Washington Nationals' right-hander Blake Treinen hit Andrew McCutchen in the back with a first-pitch change in the next at bat to force in a run and make it 1-0 Pirates after three.

Three pitches into the fourth it was tied up at 1-1 after Ian Desmond took a 2-0 sinker from Volquez to center field in PNC Park for a solo home run, his eighth of the season.

Blake Treinen issued his fourth walk of the game to Josh Harrison in the first at bat of the Pirates' fifth and the speedy right fielder took second on a flyout to center by Neil Walker in the next at bat before scoring on an RBI single to center field by Andrew McCutchen. 2-1 Pirates.

Chris Stewart hit a fly ball to center off Ross Detwiler that neither Denard Span or Jayson Werth could get to in the first at bat of the Pirates' eighth and one out later, he scored on an RBI single to right by Josh Harrison that made it 3-1 Pirates.

That's how it ended. 3-1 Pittsburgh final in PNC.

4. Treinen Train: Nats' skipper Matt Williams liked what he saw from 25-year-old right-hander Blake Treinen from the start this spring. Acquired from the Oakland A's along with left-handed pitcher Ian Krol and right-hander A.J. Cole in the three-team deal that sent Michael Morse to the Seattle Mariners, Treinen came to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee and ended up in a battle with Aaron Barrett for the final spot in the Nats' Opening Day bullpen.

Though Treinen didn't make the 25-Man roster at the start of the season, Williams made sure to let him know he was a part of the team's plans going forward.

"We let him know that he is our 'next wave,' if you will," Williams said. "And he proved everything he had to prove this spring to us. We're all certainly pleasantly surprised with his progress and the way he threw the baseball.

What he showed this spring did, however, convince Williams that Treinen was definitely ready to pitch at the major league level. "His stuff plays," the first-year skipper said. "His stuff plays at any point later in the game. It's a bowling ball at 97 [mph]. So that's all good."

Treinen was called up early this season to provide help out of the pen when the Nationals' relievers received a lot of work in the first week-plus. He gave up a run on 11 hits in 6 2/3 IP out of the bullpen, posting a 1.35 ERA and a 1.86 FIP with two walks (2.70 BB/9) and seven Ks (9.45 K/9), and was sent back to Triple-A Syracuse where he resumed work as a starter.

The Nationals called Treinen up for a spot start earlier this month in which he gave up seven hits and three unearned runs in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he was sent right back down after the outing.

On the mound for the Nats' top minor league affiliate, the 2011 7th Round pick out of South Dakota State was (2-0) this year with a 1.96 ERA, a 2.76 FIP, five walks (1.96 BB/9) and 17 Ks (6.65 K/9) in six starts and 23 IP.

He was brought back up tonight to take Gio Gonzalez's spot in the rotation in the first game of four with the Pirates in Pittsburgh's PNC Park.

Williams told reporters this afternoon he was excited to have the right-hander back:

Treinen's second start of the year for the Nats began with a groundout to short...

1st: Josh Harrison grounded out to short on a 1-2 slider. Neil Walker battled the Nationals' rookie right-hander for eight pitches before he grounded out to Danny Espinosa at second base. Andrew McCutchen lined back to the mound in his first at bat tonight, but Treinen knocked it down and threw to first to end an 18-pitch frame. 0-0.

2nd: Pedro Alvarez flew out to deep left-center in PNC where Denard Span made a harder-than-it-should-have-been catch on the warning track. Starling Marte grounded out to second. Ike Davis' groundout to Tyler Moore at first ended a six-pitch, 1-2-3 second. 24 pitches total after two. Six up, six down.

3rd: Jordy Mercer sent groundout no.5 and out no.7 to short after battling Treinen for seven pitches. Chris Stewart lined out to short on a 96 mph 0-1 fastball. Edinson Volquez walked with two down, breaking Treinen's streak of retired batters at eight, and Josh Harrison singled to left in the next at bat to break up his nascent no-hit bid. Neil Walker stepped in with two on and two out walked to load the bases for Andrew McCutchen, who took a first-pitch change in the numbers to force a run in. 1-0 Pirates on the HBP. Pedro Alvarez flew out to center to end a 24-pitch frame. 48 total after three.

4th: Treinen dropped a nice 2-2 slider on Starling Marte for a swinging K in the first at bat of the Pirates' fourth, but he left an 0-2 change up in the zone to Ike Davis in the next AB, which Davis lined to center for a one-out single. Jordy Mercer grounded out to third for out no.2, so the Nats walked Chris Stewart to get to the opposing pitcher, who K'd looking to end a 19-pitch frame. 67 pitches total overall after four innings.

5th: Treinen started 3-0 to Josh Harrison and walked him, issuing his fourth free pass of the game in the first at bat of the Pirates' fifth. Neil Walker hit a 93 mph 0-1 fastball to center for out no.1, but it was deep enough for Harrison to take second. Andrew McCutchen lined a first-pitch fastball to center in the next at bat to bring Harrison around and make it 2-1 Pirates. Pedro Alvarez K'd swinging at a 1-2 slider away, but McCutchen stole second on the pitch. Starlin Marte's fly to Jayson Werth in right ended a 13-pitch inning. 80 pitches total for Treinen.

6th: Ike Davis grounded weakly to short to start the home-half of the sixth. Treinen got up 0-2 on Jordy Mercer and got a swinging K with a 1-2 sinker in the dirt. Chris Stewart took a two-out walk from the Nats' right-hander, and pinch hitter Travis Snider hit a high-chopper up the middle that Ian Desmond couldn't snap up. The ball rolled into center, allowing Stewart to take third. With runners on first and third with two outs, Treinen was lifted...

Aaron Barrett took over on the mound and got a groundout to short from Josh Harrison to strand both of the runners he inherited.

Blake Treinen's Line: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 4 Ks, 102 P, 63 S, 8/4 GO/FO.

3. McClutchen (You know, if it existed...): Pittsburgh's 27-year-old outfielder Andrew McCutchen entered this long-weekend series with the Washington Nationals in PNC Park with a .317/.436/.488 line, 12 doubles, two triples and four home runs in 44 games and 202 plate appearances so far in 2014, over which he'd walked (35 BB) more than he'd struck out (34 Ks).

The Pirates, at 19-26, have struggled at the start this season, McCutchen, the 2013 NL MVP, has continued to produce.

Though he had something of a down-year against the Nationals last season, posting a .250/.300/.571 line with three home runs in seven games and 30 PAs, the Pirates' center fielder has crushed Washington pitching to this point in his major league career with a .395/.458/.825 line, six doubles, two triples and 13 HRs in 30 games and 131 plate appearances before tonight.

McCutchen was 0 for 1 after he lined a 97 mph 2-2 fastball back to the mound and off Blake Treinen's glove. The Nats' starter recovered the ball and threw to first to end the opening frame.

In his second at bat of the game, McCutchen stepped in with the bases loaded and took a first-pitch change from Treinen in the back, forcing in a run to make it 1-1 the hard way.

The third time up, McCutchen stepped in with a runner on second and lined a first-pitch fastball to center for an RBI single that made it 2-1 Pirates.

In at bat no.4, McCutchen stepped in against Aaron Barrett with a runner on first after a leadoff single by Neil Walker. Barrett fell behind 3-0, but tried for a strike on the next pitch, which McCutchen fouled off. A low heater from Barrett was called a strike, taking it to a full count, but McCutchen spit on the 3-2 offering and walked. 1 for 2, HBP, BB.

2. Nats vs Volquez: Edinson Volquez, 30, entered tonight's start in the midst on an (0-4) losing streak over his last five outings.

In 28 2/3 IP over that stretch, the right-hander posted a 6.91 ERA with nine walks, 15 Ks and eight home runs allowed. Opposing hitters put up a .266/.331/.532 line on him in those five starts.

Against the Washington Nationals in his 10-year career, the former Rangers, Reds, Padres and Dodgers' starter was (1-2) with a 6.64 ERA, 12 walks (5.31 BB/9) and 21 Ks (9.30 K/9) in four starts and 20 1/3 innings pitched over which he held Nationals' hitters to a combined .240/.352/.400 line.

Volquez started tonight's outing with a quick, 10-pitch inning against the Nats, but a Wilson Ramos single and a one-out error by third baseman Pedro Alvarez on a Tyler Moore grounder that should have been a double play, put the Pirates' right-hander in a tight spot for the first time. A fly to right Danny Espinosa and a weak grounder to first by Nate McLouth ended the Pirates' starter's second scoreless frame, however.

Volquez issued back-to-back walks to Blake Treinen and Denard Span in the first two at bats of the third, but a force at third on an Anthony Rendon grounder and a hard-hit lineout to center by Jayson Werth left it up to Wilson Ramos to take advantage of the free passes. Ramos grounded out to third to end a 25-pitch frame.

Two pitches after Volquez scored from third on a bases-loaded HBP to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead, the right-handed starter gave it right back when he left a 2-0 sinker up for Ian Desmond, who crushed a solo blast to right-center to make it a 1-1 game. Volquez's 22-pitch fourth left him at 80 pitches.

Back-to-back nine-pitch innings in the fifth and sixth pushed up Volquez to 98 pitches and kept him around a little longer than he would have been out there otherwise.

Edinson Volquez's Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 98 P, 64 S, 10/1 GO/FO.

1. The Wrap-Up: Aaron Barrett inherited two runners when he took over for Blake Treinen with two out in the Pirates' sixth. The Nats' right-hander got the final out of the inning to keep it close at 2-1 Pirates.

Jeanmar Gomez took over on the mound for Pittsburgh in the top of the seventh and gave up a one-out bunt single by Nate McLouth before getting a double play grounder out of Kevin Frandsen to keep the Bucs' one-run lead in tact.

Barrett put the first two runners of the Pirates' seventh on, giving up a single to center by Neil Walker and a walk to Andrew McCutchen. Pedro Alvarez popped up to the infield for out no.1. Barrett struck Starling Marte out with an 0-2 slider for no.2 and got a lineout to first out of Ike Davis to end a 15-pitch frame.

Tony Watson took the mound for the Pirates in the top of the eighth and retired the first two batters he faced before issuing a two-out walk to Jayson Werth. Wilson Ramos singled through the right side to put two on in front of Ian Desmond. Desmond worked the count full... and walked to load the bases for pinch hitter Scott Hairston... who popped out to end the frame.

Chris Stewart doubled to center with one down in the Pirates' eighth on a rare ball Denard Span didn't get to in time. Pinch hitter Gaby Sanchez grounded out, but Josh Harrison lined to right to bring Stewart in and make it 3-1 Pirates after eight.

Mark Melancon gave up a leadoff walk to Danny Espinosa and a two-out walk to Denard Span to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of Anthony Rendon, who fell behind 0-2 quickly, got back to 2-2 and popped to center where Andrew McCutchen made a sliding, game-ending catch.

Pirates win, 3-1 final.

Nationals now 24-23