A.J. Burnett (3-2; 2.57 ERA) pitched five-hit ball over five innings, and Andrew McCutchen and newly-promoted infielder Jordy Mercer both homered as the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Washington Nationals 3-1 Friday night in the opening game of a three-game series at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Burnett allowed just one run while striking out nine batters and walking only one. He leads the National League in strikeouts with 57. McCutchen went 3-for-4, has seven hits in his last three games, and is now batting .257. Starling Marte and Gaby Sanchez both contributed two hits for the Bucs (17-12). Jason Grilli, who was named the winner of the Major League Baseball Deliveryman Award as the reliever-of-the-month for April, recorded his 12th save in as many chances this season.
Mercer was called up earlier in the day from “AAA” Indianapolis when the Pirates placed second baseman Neil Walker on the 15-day disabled list with an injury to his right hand. The move was made retroactive to April 27, so Walker may be able to return on May 12. Pittsburgh also called up pitcher Jose Contreras and sent down reliever Jared Hughes.
Danny Espinosa drove in the sole run scored by Washington (15-15). Although the Pirates entered the game with just a .193 team batting average against left-handers, the loss went to starting Nationals southpaw Ross Detwiler (1-3).
In the second game of the series on Saturday afternoon at 4:05 PM, Jeff Locke (3-1; 2.83 ERA) will start for Pittsburgh against Washington right-hander Stephen Strasburg (1-4; 3.13 ERA).