Andrew McCutchen slammed a pair of two-run home runs on Monday, and the Pittsburgh Pirates held off the Washington Nationals in a 6-5 series opener, but the Bucs may have lost closer Jason Grilli to a throwing arm injury.
McCutchen drove home four of the Pirates’ six runs, and raised his batting average to .307. Starling Marte and Jordy Mercer also recorded two hits, while Gaby Sanchez forced home a run with a ground ball out and Pedro Alvarez scored on a wild pitch.
Grilli faced five batters in the ninth inning, allowing a two-run homer to Jayson Werth and retiring two other batters. After delivering a check-swing strike to the fifth batter and moving to within two strikes of chalking up his 31st save of the season, Grilli signaled to be removed from the game with what the Pirates later described as “discomfort” of the right arm.
Pittsburgh (58-39) jumped to a 5-0 lead before former Pirate Adam LaRoche hit a solo home run. Werth later duplicated McCutchen’s feat of hitting a pair of two-run homers.
Washington (48-51) outhit the Pirates 9-8 with Werth, Denard Span and Wilson Ramos all recording two hits. Dan Haren (4-11; 5.79 ERA) took the loss. The Nationals have now lost nine of their last eleven contests.
Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton (2-2; 3.35 ERA) earned the win, working 6-and-two-thirds innings, and allowing 3 runs and 6 hits, striking out 5 batters and walking one. Vin Mazzaro, who replaced Grilli, retired the game’s final batter for his first career save.
In the second game of the four-game series on Tuesday night, Pirates rookie Gerrit Cole (4-3; 3.89 ERA) is scheduled to face Washington’s Taylor Jordan (0-2; 3.32 ERA).