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Washington Nationals blow late lead, lose 6-5 to Pittsburgh Pirates on walk-off single

It could have been a special night in PNC Park, but a 6-5 loss to the Pirates and a Phillies’ loss to the Mets made it just another day for the Nationals.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Washington’s Nationals started the night in Pittsburgh PA’s PNC Park with the so-called “magic number” to clinch the National League East down to two, which meant that any combination of two Nats’ wins or New York Mets’ losses would secure the third division crown for the Nationals in the last five years.

The Mets were at home taking on the Philadelphia Phillies as the Nationals battled the Pirates on the road in the first game of a three-game weekend set.

The Nationals took a 5-4 lead into the ninth, but Mark Melancon blew his first save as a National as the Pirates rallied to tie it at 5-5 and send it to extras as the Mets won 10-5 in New York.

It stayed tied until the eleventh when the Pirates loaded the bases with one out vs Yusmeiro Petit and got a walk-off single by Jacob Stallings to win it, 6-5 final.

Here’s how it happened:

Stephen Drew and Ryan Zimmerman hit back-to-back opposite field doubles, to left and right field, respectively, off Pirates’ righty Jameson Taillon with one down in the second.

Drew scored easily from second on Zimmerman’s line drive to right-center (which was his 1,500th hit in the majors) to put the Nationals up, 1-0.

Zimmerman scored as well when Danny Espinosa (No. 23) took a 96 mph 1-1 fastball from Taillon for a ride to straight-center for a two-run blast that made it 3-0 Nats when it landed in the PIRATES hedge beyond the center field wall.

Given a 3-0 lead to work with, Gio Gonzalez gave up back-to-back one-out singles and a two-out RBI hit by the opposing pitcher as the Pirates got on the board. 3-1. Gonzalez ended up giving up four singles and two runs in the second as the Pirates climbed back within one, 3-2.

Andrew McCutchen extended his current hit streak to 11-straight games with a leadoff triple to right-center in the third, and scored on a groundout to short by Jung Ho Kang to tie it up at 3-3 in PNC.

Taillon settled in and completed five innings on work on 87 pitches, keeping it tied.

Jameson Taillon’s Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 87 P, 63 S, 5/1 GO/FO.

Antonio Bastardo came on in the top of the sixth, and gave up an opposite field blast by Wilson Ramos, whose 22nd HR of the season put the Nationals on top, 4-3.

With two on and one out later in the Nats’ sixth, Dusty Baker hit for Gonzalez, ending the left-hander’s night.

Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 91 P, 57 S, 8/0 GO/FO.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Jayson Werth took a walk to force in a run and make it 5-3 Nats.

Back-to-back, one-out singles, a base-loading walk and sac fly got the Pirates within one in the home-half of the sixth, 5-4, but Blake Treinen took over with two on and two out and struck Francisco Cervelli out to end the threat.

Treinen, Oliver Perez and Shawn Kelley combined for a scoreless eighth, with Perez and Kelley stranding the two runners they inherited from Treinen. Still 5-4 Nationals.

Kelley came back out for the bottom of the eighth and retired the Pirates in order, on a few well-struck fly balls.

Mark Melancon took over in the ninth in his first appearance against his former team and blew his first save for his new team with Sean Rodiguez hitting a game-tying two-out double to center over a retreating Trea Turner to tie it up at 5-5 and send it to extras.

It was still tied in the eleventh when Yusmeiro Petit (where’s he been?) gave up a one-out, ground-rule double by Francisco Cervelli.

Petit issued an intentional walk to put Andrew McCutchen on too, and an unintentional walk to load the bases with one out and Sean Rodriguez due up. Rodriguez K’d chasing for out No. 2, but Jacob Stallings hit a walk-off single to win it. 6-5 Pirates.

Nationals now 89-64


  • Since baseball returned to the nation’s capital in 2005, Washington has a 41-35 record against the Pittsburgh Pirates, with the Nationals 15-21 in PNC Park since ‘05.
  • Washington’s 89-63 record heading into this weekend’s three-game set is the second-best record in the National League, behind only the Chicago Cubs (97-55).
  • Pittsburgh has won six of the last eight and seven of ten heading into this weekend’s three-game set with Washington.
  • Pirates’ infielder Sean Rodriguez has hits in 10 of the last 11 games, going 15 for 40 (.375 AVG) with six home runs over that stretch.
  • The Nationals’ magic number is down to two heading into tonight’s game, meaning any combination of two wins or two losses by the New York Mets will give Washington the NL East division title.
  • Trea Turner’s .342 AVG on the year heading into the three-game set with the Pirates, is the highest by a rookie with at least 260 PAs since Ichiro Suzuki hits .350 for the Seattle Mariners as a rookie in 2001.
  • Daniel Murphy, who is sitting out of his fifth-straight game, still has the NL’s second-highest AVG (.347), the second-most mulit-hit games (tied, 56) and second-most RBIs (tied, 104).
  • Nationals’ lefty Gio Gonzalez starts the night (4-0) with a 2.81 ERA in seven career starts vs the Pirates in his career, with two of those starts last season, when he put up a 0.75 ERA (1 ER in 12 IP).
  • Pittsburgh is 19-9 against left-handed starters with wins in nine of the last ten games left-handers started against them.
  • Pirates’ relievers have a 3.36 ERA on the season, the third-lowest in the NL, behind only the Nationals (3.26) Los Angeles Dodgers (3.25).
  • Former Nationals’ reliever Felipe Rivero has a 1.40 ERA and 35 Ks in 24 games and 24 IP since he was acquired from Washington in the deal that sent Mark Melancon to the Pirates.
  • Andrew McCutchen has a 10-game hitting streak going heading into tonight’s matchup, over which he’s (17 for 43, .395 AVG) with four home runs and 13 RBIs over the course of the streak.

Nationals now 89-64