The Pittsburgh Pirates trailed by scores of 4-0 and 7-3 on Thursday afternoon, rebounded to tie their game in Washington at 7-7 with four runs in the top of the ninth inning, but lost the contest 9-7 on the strength of a two-run, walkoff home run by the Nationals’ Bryce Harper.
Three Pittsburgh infield errors in the first inning led to four Washington runs, although only one was charged as an earned run against Pirates starting pitcher A. J. Burnett. While Burnett pitched scoreless baseball from the second through seventh innings, Gaby Sanchez was going 3-for-3 and scoring on a Burnett groundout and Josh Harrison’s first home run of the season.
Washington (49-53) extended their 4-3 lead with three runs off Pittsburgh’s Vin Mazzaro in the eighth inning. Steve Lombardozzi’s RBI ground-rule double and Adam LaRoche’s two-run triple made the score 7-3. The Pirates tied the score in the top of the ninth inning with Jordy Mercer’s RBI double, a run-scoring single by Russell Martin and a two-run single from Harrison.
Bryan Morris (4-4; 2.91 ERA) took the loss when Harper followed a single by Kurt Suzuki with the game-winning blast, his 14th homer of the season and his first Major League walkoff homer. The win went to Ian Krol (1-0; 2.12 ERA).
Washington outhit Pittsburgh 14-12. The top four hitters in the Nationals’ lineup combined to go 11-for-19 with Harper, Lombardozzi and Ryan Zimmerman each recording three hits, and LaRoche going 2-for-4. Harrison, Sanchez and Mercer all tallied three hits for the Pirates, with Harrison totaling four RBIs.
The game’s outcome ended both a four-game Pittsburgh winning streak and a six-game Washington slide. Pittsburgh won three of the four games in the series at Nationals Park.
Pittsburgh (60-40 through their first 100 games) will finish a ten-game road trip with three games in Miami against the Marlins (38-62) over the weekend. In Friday night’s opener, Jeff Locke (9-2; 2.11 ERA) is expected to face the Marlins’ Henderson Alvarez (0-1; 3.28 ERA), who will be making just his fifth start of the season. On Saturday night, Pittsburgh’s Charlie Morton (2-2; 3.35 ERA) is scheduled to go up against Miami’s Tom Koehler (2-5; 4.38 ERA). On Sunday afternoon, Bucs rookie Gerrit Cole (5-3; 3.51 ERA) is penciled in against the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez (6-5; 2.74 ERA).