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Washington Nationals fail to sweep, but take 2 of 3 from Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-7 final in weird one in D.C.

This game was extra. Not extra innings. Just extra. More like, what is going on here at some points? But yeah, baseball?

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Espino vs Pirates:

Paolo Espino pitched out of the Nationals’ bullpen for the first two and a half months of the season, but moved into the rotation back on June 12th, and his three starts in Washington’s rotation have been solid, with the 35-year-old posting a 2.57 ERA, 4.63 FIP, a .245/.310/.396 line against, five walks, and 10 Ks in 14 innings as a starter.

“He understands that he’s here to help the team in any way possible,” Davey Martinez said in his pregame press conference before Espino held the Texas Rangers to a run on six hits in 5 13 IP last time out before today.

“In Spring Training,” Martinez continued, “... we talked to him about his role changing, you know, midseason. He could be a long-man, if he pitches well he could be a one-inning guy, or he could actually have to move into the starting rotation. He knew that coming in, and he worked to where he’s now pitching every five days and he’s accepted his role and he’s done well.”

Start No. 4 for Espino didn’t start so well, with Pirates’ leadoff man Ke’Bryan Hayes singling on the second pitch the Nats’ starter threw and scoring when Bryan Reynolds hit a 2-1 fastball out to left-center field for a two-run blast and a 2-0 lead two batters into the series finale.

Espino set 9 of 10 batters down after the home run in the first, as the Nationals rallied to go up, 3-2, but he left a 2-2 curve up for Daniel Vogelback in the top of the fourth, and the Pirates’ DH hit it 400 feet to right field to tie things up with a solo shot which cleared out-of-town scoreboard, 3-3.

A leadoff single and one-out, ground-rule double in the fifth ended Espino’s outing after 66 pitches in 4 13 IP...

Paolo Espino’s Line: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 2 HRs, 66 P, 40 S, 2/3 GO/FO.

Keller vs D.C.:

Pirates’ starter Mitch Keller retired the first two batters he faced this afternoon, but Josh Bell doubled to extend the bottom of the first inning, hustling around to second to beat a throw in from right-center, and he scored on an opposite field, RBI single by Nelson Cruz, who got the Nationals on the board after the Bucs scored two in the opening frame, 2-1. Luis García’s two-out single got Keibert Ruiz up as well, and the catcher lined an RBI single to right to get Cruz in and tie things up at 2-2.

Ehire Adrianza singled to start the Nats’ second, moved to second base on a groundout, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on a two-out RBI double to right by Juan Soto, 3-2.

Josh Bell and Nelson Cruz took two-out walks after Soto’s hit, loading them up, but a fly to left by Luis García ended the threat, and the Bucs’ starter was up to 58 pitches after a 32-pitch frame.

It was 4-3 in the Pirates’ favor when Keller returned to the mound in the fifth and gave up a leadoff walk to Josh Bell. Nelson Cruz reached on an error by Hoy Park in the next at-bat to knock Keller out of the game after 93 pitches...

Mitch Keller’s Line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 4 Ks, 93 P, 53 S, 4/1 GO/FO.

Bullpen Action:

Steve Cishek took over with runners on second (Jack Suwinski) and third (Hoy Park) and one out in the top of the fifth, and the reliever got a liner to Josh Bell at first base Bell caught on a fly, before throwing over to third base, where Ehire Adrianza tagged Park for what looked like an odd, inning-ending, 5-3 DP, but ... hold on a minute. Umps and managers talked this one over for a while, and I mean, a while, before the umpires ruled that —- honestly, I have no idea what happened here. Maybe our friend Mark Zuckerman at MASN can explain?:

So, both runners ran on contact, Josh Bell made the catch, and Bell threw over to third base where Adrianza tagged Park, instead of stepping on the bag, so a run scored, 4-3 Pirates... I have no idea. Pirates lead.

With Bell on second and Nelson Cruz on first, lefty Cam Vieaux took over for the Pirates in the fifth and struck out Luis García for out No. 1, but Keibert Ruiz lined an RBI single to center field to bring Bell in and tie it up at 4-4. Yadiel Hernández stepped in next and doubled off the out-of-town scoreboard for a go-ahead hit, 5-4 Nationals, and 6-4 on a two-out hit to left off of new pitcher Chase De Jong by César Hernández on which Ruiz tried to tag up for some/whatever reason, and Ruiz had to hustle to score, but he forced Yadiel Hernández, who ran on contact, to slow up in front of the plate, and Yadi got tagged out. I mean, who knows at this point.

Bryan Reynolds hit his second home run of the game in the top of the sixth, taking a 94 MPH 0-1 fastball from Carl Edwards, Jr. 420 feet to right field for his 14th of the season, making it a 6-5 game in the Nationals’ favor.

Edwards, Jr. returned to the mound in the seventh and gave up a leadoff single by Michael Perez and a walk to Hoy Park (after a wild pitch), before manager Davey Martinez went to the pen again for Kyle Finnegan with two on and no one out. Finnegan got the first out on a swinging K by Ke’Bryan Hayes, but Bryan Reynolds stepped in next and hit a high, 97 MPH 1-2 sinker out to left field for a go-ahead, three-run blast, 8-6 Pirates. No. 3 for Reynolds today. No. 15 of 2022.

Tyler Beede took over for the visitors in the bottom of the seventh, and gave up a two-out shot to left on a 99 MPH first-pitch fastball Yadiel Hernández hit 353 feet to left for a solo home run, 8-7 Pirates.

Sam Clay walked Oneil Cruz and hit Jack Suwinski before a sac bunt moved both runners up and ended the Nats’ lefty’s outing. Andres Machado took over and got out No. 2 on a fly ball to right field a charging Juan Soto caught, bobbled, and reeled back in. Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a ground ball to short to end the threat and keep it an 8-7 game.

With Juan Soto on first after grounding into a force at second for out No. 2, Josh Bell singled to right field, moving Soto to third. Nelson Cruz walked as well, loading the bases in front of Luis García, who lined out to left field.

Andres Machado kept it close with a scoreless top of the ninth, but the Nationals came up empty against Yerry De Los Santos in the bottom of the inning. Final Score: 8-7 Pirates.

Nationals now 29-49