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Washington Nationals drop 6-4 decision to Pittsburgh Pirates, play for split in finale...

The Nationals will play for a split in tomorrow’s series finale in PNC Park after a 6-4 loss.

Washington Nationals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

BREAKING NEWS - César Hernández Doesn’t Lead Off With A Hit:

César Hernández led off with a hit in five straight games going into tonight’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Pirates in PNC Park, reaching base safely to start each of the games on the Nationals’ current road trip.

In that stretch, the 31-year-old infielder was 8 for 22 (.364 AVG) with two walks and six runs scored, and he’d scored at least one run in six straight games.

Hernández got all of a 1-1 slider from Bucs’ starter Bryse Wilson tonight, but he lined out to right field for the first leadoff out this week.

Francophone:

Maikel Franco singled to start the top of the second, moved up on a wild pitch one out later, and scored on a double to left field by Alcides Escobar, as the Nationals went up, 1-0, on the Pirates in PNC after 1 12 innings.

Franco was hitless in the first two games in the Pirates’ home, but over the previous six he’d gone 9 for 23 (.391/.375/.609) with two doubles and a home run in 24 plate appearances as he got comfortable in the Nationals’ lineup after he started 0 for 10 in the first three games.

Jolly Rogers:

Josh Rogers finished the season in the Nationals’ rotation in 2021, and came to camp with the club looking to earn his spot in the starting mix in D.C., but he didn’t make it onto the Opening Day roster.

Rogers was optioned to Triple-A Rochester before the season opener, but an injury to veteran starter Aníbal Sánchez created an opportunity for the 27-year-old left-hander.

Rogers didn’t sulk, of course.

“That’s not who he is,” manager Davey Martinez said. “And I talked to him. Of course you’re going to be down because you wanted to make the team, but I said, ‘Hey, like I said, you’re going to be up here, be patient, we’re going to need you, and you’ll be the first one we call if we need a starter.’”

In his first outing of the 2022 campaign, the southpaw gave up two hits, two walks, and one earned run in 5 13 IP.

Rogers tossed a scoreless first tonight, and came back out for the second with a 1-0 lead, but gave it right back, walking Jake Marisnick with one out in the home-half of the inning, then surrendering a double by Andrew Knapp, who tied things up with a ground ball that got through the left side, 1-1. Knapp took third on a throw home on the play, and scored a batter later when Cole Tucker singled to center, 2-1 Pirates.

It was a 2-2 game when Rogers returned to the mound in the fifth inning and gave up back-to-back, one-out singles by Ke’Bryan Hayes and Bryan Reynolds, which ended his outing at 76 pitches in 4 13 IP...

Josh Rogers’ Line: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 76 P, 50 S, 5/5 GO/FO.

Soto Goes Yard:

Juan Soto hit home run No. 3 of his 2022 campaign in the top of the fifth inning, taking the 2-2 changeup Bryse Wilson threw him for a ride, sending a liner over the right field wall in PNC, for a game-tying solo shot, 2-2 in the fifth.

Bryse Wilson’s Line: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 77 P, 41 S, 5/3 GO/FO.

Bullpen Action:

Steve Cishek came on for the Nationals in the bottom of the fifth, with two on and one out, against Michael Chavis, and the first baseman lined an RBI single to right field, that put the Pirates back up a half-inning after the Nats rallied to tie it, 3-2.

Left-hander Dillon Peters replaced Bryse Wilson in the top of the fifth inning, and returned to the mound in the top of the sixth inning and he worked around a leadoff walk to Maikel Franco for a scoreless frame.

Cishek, in his second inning of work in the sixth, retired the Pirates in order to keep it a one-run game.

Victor Arano needed 13 pitches to retire the Bucs in order in the bottom of the seventh.

Alcides Escobar singled off Pirates’ righty David Bednar with two outs in the Nats’ eighth, but was stranded when pinch hitter Yadiel Hernández grounded out to end the inning.

Kyle Finnegan gave up a leadoff triple on a line drive to right that hit off Yadiel Hernández’s glove and got away from him, and a walk to Yoshi Tsutsugo and RBI hit by Diego Castillo put the home team up by two, 4-2.

Andrew Knapp hit into a force with the bases loaded against Finnegan later in the inning, but a throwing error on the play allowed two runs to score, 6-2 Pirates.

César Hernández and Juan Soto hit back-to-back singles in the first two at-bats of the top of the ninth, with righty Chris Stratton on the mound, and Josh Bell hit a one-out RBI bloop out to left field to get Hernández in, 6-3. Soto scored on a Keibert Ruiz grounder to short, 6-4.

Nationals now 4-6