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Washington Nationals drop 2 of 3 to the Pittsburgh Pirates with 4-3 loss in finale

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Wander Suero issued a leadoff walk in the ninth and that runner came around to score two outs later for what was the winning run in a 4-3 game...

Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Max Scherzer and Jameson Taillon gave up three runs each in today’s series finale between the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates in the nation’s capital, Scherzer over eight innings and Taillon over six.

It was tied at 3-3 in the ninth when Wander Suero walked Josh Bell to start the inning and gave up a two-out, ground-rule double that put the Bucs ahead, 4-3. That’s how it ended.

Mad Max vs the Bucs: Max Scherzer waved off his trainer and manager after taking a ball hit back to the mound off his right ankle last Sunday afternoon in Citi Field, and the 34-year-old right-hander stayed in the game for a couple more innings, until it tightened up on him and he was lifted.

His fourth start was moved back one day to be cautious early in the season, but he got all of his work in and took his turn in the rotation in today’s series finale with Pittsburgh’s Pirates.

“The extra days definitely helped him,” Davey Martinez told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr, before today’s game.

“I wanted to make sure he was 100 percent with him and he’s not going out there laboring any part of the game. He said he was good. After his bullpen, he said he felt really good. Just giving him that extra day helps him clear his mind.”

Scherzer fell behind 2-0 early, giving up a leadoff single by Adam Frazier, on an 0-1 cutter, an RBI double off the out-of-town scoreboard by Josh Bell, on a 95 MPH 2-2 heater, and an RBI single through the right side of the infield by Colin Moran on a 1-1 changeup in the next at bat made it a two-run lead.

A leadoff walk to Frazier came back to haunt Scherzer when Bell doubled on a first-pitch cutter in the Bucs’ first baseman’s two-out at bat, 3-1, though Bell got thrown out at home attempting to score on a Colin Moran single when Michael A. Taylor’s strong throw and a nice pick on a one-hopper by Yan Gomes got the runner by a couple steps to end the top of the inning...

Scherzer held the Pirates there, giving up just one hit and retiring 11 of 12 batters between the fourth and seventh innings, after the Nationals rallied to tie it at 3-3 in the home-half of the third.

Scherzer came back out for the eighth and (with some help from Anthony Rendon at third on a diving play that saved a run) worked around a one-out double in a 13-pitch frame that left him at 98 total after eight.

Max Scherzer’s Line: 8.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 98 P, 71 S, 11/4 GO/FO.

Taillon in D.C.: In his last outing before this afternoon, Pirates’ right-hander Jameson Taillon gave up four hits and two walks, with six runs, all unearned, scoring in the two innings he was on mound the against the Chicago Cubs.

A 37-pitch second, and a line drive that hit him in the head, ended his outing in what was eventually a 10-0 loss on the road against Pittsburgh’s NL Central rivals.

Through three starts, before today’s, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 Draft (who was No. 1 that year? Can’t remember?), had a 3.00 ERA, four walks, 13 Ks, and a .200/.262/.367 line against in 15 IP.

Given a 2-0 lead to work with before he took the mound today in D.C., Taillon gave one back in the bottom of the first, with Adam Eaton singling, stealing second, and scoring on an RBI double to left-center by Nats’ second baseman Howie Kendrick, 2-1.

Anthony Rendon moved Kendrick up with a fly to right field, but the Nationals left the tying run at third.

Eaton walked with one out in the third, and took third base on a single to right by Kendrick in the next at bat, setting Anthony Rendon up with an RBI opportunity he cashed in with a hard-hit one-hop liner to third, 3-2 Pirates, and Juan Soto hit a two-out RBI single to center to tie it up at 3-3 after three.

Taillon held the Nationals to three runs in six innings, and left the game with the score still tied at 3-3...

Jameson Taillon’s Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 85 P, 61 S, 8/4 GO/FO.

Rendon is Streaking: With a double in his second at bat on Saturday afternoon, Anthony Rendon extended his hit streak to 12 straight games, over which he was 21 for 47 (.447 AVG) with eight doubles, six home runs, 16 RBIs, five walks, and 18 runs scored, and the two-base hit gave him at least one extra-base hit in a personal career-high and Nats’ franchise record 10 straight games.

Rendon extended the hit streak with an opposite field single in his third at bat, 22 for 50 (.440 AVG). The extra-base hit streak?

BULLPEN ACTION: Nick Burdi came on for the Pirates in the bottom of the seventh inning, and worked around a one-out single for a scoreless frame.

Felipe Vázquez got the ninth for the Bucs and gave up a one-out walk to Anthony Rendon and a two-out single by Ryan Zimmerman, but stranded both runners.

Wander Suero got the ninth for the Nats, and walked Josh Bell after missing with a close 2-2 pitch, and two outs later, Bell scored on a ground-rule double to left-center by Jason Martin, who hit a 1-2 curve over the fence on a hop to make it a 4-3 game.

Vázquez came back out in the bottom of the ninth and gave up a leadoff single to left-center by Nationals’ pinch hitter Victor Robles, and a one-out walk to Michael A. Taylor.

Adam Eaton drop a bunt down the third base line to load the bases up in front of Howie Kendrick, who worked the count full, but K’d looking at a 98 mph fastball from Vázquez that caught the low, inside corner for a called third strike and out No. 2. Anthony Rendon? Fly to short-center to end it. Pirates win, 4-3 final.

Nationals now 7-7