It was tied at 2-2 in the seventh inning of the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates’ series opener in D.C., but Kyle Schwarber’s fourth home run in the past four games, No. 13 this season, put the home team ahead and they held on for a 3-2 win in Nationals Park.
Lester vs the Pirates: After giving up 11 runs on 13 hits in back-to-back rough starts vs the Cubs and Orioles, Jon Lester held the last three teams he faced before tonight, the Brewers, Braves, and the Rays, to one run each in consecutive outings, giving up 14 hits in 13 1⁄3 IP, but receiving no decisions over that stretch.
Heading into tonight’s game, the veteran left-hander had a 4.19 ERA overall on the year, with 16 walks, 27 Ks, and a .282/.349/.456 line against in eight starts and 38 2⁄3 innings pitched.
Lester started things off with a scoreless 17-pitch first, in which he worked around a one-out single, but one out into the second, he didn’t get a 2-2 cutter to Kevin Newman in enough and the Pirates’ shortstop hit it out to left field for a solo home run and a 1-0 lead early in the series opener.
Lester held the Pirates there through three, and came back out for the fourth with a 2-1 lead, and tossed a scoreless, six-pitch frame, and followed that up with a 12-pitch fifth. He got another out in the sixth, but after giving up a leadoff double by Jacob Stallings, and at 86 pitches overall, he was done for the night. Stallings scored from third on a sac fly later in the inning to tie it up, and add a run to Lester’s line...
Jon Lester’s Line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 86 P, 54 S, 11/2 GO/FO.
Brubaker vs the Nats: Through 11 starts and 60 IP this season before tonight’s outing, JT Brubaker, 27, and a 2015 6th Round pick by the Pirates, had a 3.90 ERA, 13 walks, 62 Ks, and a .250/.310/.427 line against. The right-hander was coming off a 4 2⁄3-inning outing against the LA Dodgers in which he gave up five hits and three runs while striking out six in a 5-3 loss in which he took the L, falling to (4-5) overall on the year with Pittsburgh 4-7 when he starts.
Brubaker tossed two scoreless on an efficient 17 pitches to start his outing against the Nats in the nation’s capital, but Victor Robles lined a 1-0 sinker to left-center for a leadoff double in the third, moved up on a bunt by pitcher Jon Lester, and scored on a line drive single by Kyle Schwarber that tied it up at 1-1 after the Pirates jumped out to an early lead. Schwarber was thrown out trying to take third on a Trea Turner single to center that Bucs’ center fielder Bryan Reynolds bobbled, but Turner took second on the throw in and scored on an opposite field single by Juan Soto in the next at bat, 2-1.
Brubaker held it there through five, which he completed on 71 pitches, and the Pirates tied it up at 2-2 before he was officially removed from the game.
JT Brubaker’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 71 P, 46 S, 9/3 GO/FO.
Bell vs the Bucs: Going up against the team that drafted and developed him, before trading him to the Nationals this winter, Josh Bell went into this week’s series against the Pirates on a bit of a run, with hits six of his last eight games and, “... at least one extra-base hit in five of the eight,” as the Nationals noted in their pregame, uh, notes. Bell was 7 for 28 (.250 AVG) in the stretch, with four doubles, a home run, two RBIs, one walk, and a run scored during over the last eight games.
Bullpen Action: Wander Suero took over for Jon Lester with a runner on second and one out in the Pirates’ sixth, and gave up a single to center by Kevin Newman, on which the runner, Jacob Stallings, advanced to third, and a sac fly to right by Erik González tied the game at 2-2 before Suero got out of the inning.
Pirates’ righty Chris Stratton took over on the mound in the bottom of the sixth, and he tossed a scoreless, 12-pitch frame to keep it a 2-2 game, working around a leadoff hit by Josh Bell.
Kyle Finnegan worked around a one-out walk in a scoreless, 18-pitch top of the seventh.
Pirates’ righty Clay Holmes retired two batters in the bottom of the seventh, but left a 1-0 curveball up for Kyle Schwarber, who hit a line drive home run to right and over the out-of town scoreboard for a go-ahead blast, 3-2 Nationals. Schwarber’s 4th in four games and his 13th this season.
Tanner Rainey walked Phillip Evans with one out in the top of the eighth, but Starlin Castro got a one-hop grounder in his glove at third base in the next at bat, and started an inning-ending 5-4-3 on a grounder by Kevin Newman. Still 3-2 Nationals.
Pirates’ lefty Sam Howard retired two then hit Josh Harrison in the numbers before he was done for the night.
Kyle Crick took over and walked Yan Gomes to put two on before Starlin Castro lined out to end the threat.
Brad Hand retired the Pirates in order in the top of the ninth to earn the save. Ballgame.
Final Score: 3-2 Nationals
Nationals now 28-35