The Nationals dropped the doubleheader opener to the Pirates, 5-3, on a pair of home runs in the late innings that broke open a close contest. Livan Hernandez had kept the Nationals close, but unlike Friday, it was Pittsburgh that had the late game heroics.
Manager Davey Johnson was pleased with the way Hernandez stayed in the game. He was able to get to the eighth inning, but Sean Burnett allowed two home runs that ended up deciding the game.
"(Hernandez) battled them," Johnson said. "I don't think he had his best stuff. He kept us in there. That was our part of the ball game."
Johnson said that is when he will always put Burnett in the game.
"That has got to be his spot," Johnson said. "(With) some left-handers coming up, we know (Tyler) Clippard can do it. I can't burn Clippard all the way up. (Burnett) has got to get it done. I feel confident that he will get it."
Burnett allowed the back-to-back home runs to Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen. Johnson said Burnett was struggling with his location.
"He looked like he was throwing pretty good," Johnson said. "He wasn't locating very good. You cant leave the ball over the middle of the plate against a big guy like Jones. That kind of burst his bubble there going deep to center field. I haven't lost confidence in him. He will be back out there."
Hernandez lasted seven innings after the Pirates scored two runs on three hits in the first inning. Hernandez said he thought he had thrown a strike early, but it was called a ball.
"The ball came back to the middle," Hernandez said. "I was surprised they didn't call it a strike. The guy hit a base hit and I started getting into trouble. Then, the ground ball (potential double play) to first I thought he was out. They called him safe and we can do nothing about it. After that, a couple of base hits and they scored two runs in the first inning."