The Nationals are going for their second straight three-game series sweep Sunday against the Pirates, after taking three in New York against the Mets earlier this week.
If the Nationals win the game, it would be their first season series win over the Bucs. The Nationals lost the first three games against the Pirates this season in late May and have bounced back to win three in a row.
Doug Fister did not allow a baserunner until the third after walking Ike Davis. Davis went to second on a wild pitch. But Edinson Volquez struck out and Gregory Polanco flew out to center to end the inning. Fister has pitched three innings without allowing a hit.
Anthony Rendon and Michael A. Taylor each have base hits for the Nationals. But Volquez has done a really nice job of keeping the ball down in the zone and inducing ground balls. There have been four groundball outs by Nationals’ hitters of the first nine outs.
Through three frames, there is no score in D.C.
Update: The Pirates took advantage of a pair of Nationals’ errors to go ahead in the sixth. Polanco reached on an Ian Desmond error. Josh Harrison’s single put runners on first and third.
On Neil Walker’s grounder back to Fister, he threw the ball to Rendon who then threw home to try to get Polanco. But Ramos dropped the ball and the run scored, to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
Russell Martin added a run-scoring single to make it 2-0 Pirates.
Then Pedro Alvarez singled. With the bases loaded, Starling Marte’s fielder’s choice back to Fister got Walker out at the plate for the first out of the inning. Travis Snider’s grounder to first base was thrown home to get Martin for the second out. Fister then was able to get Davis to fly out.
The Pirates scored two runs on a couple of miscues. But with the bases loaded and no one out, give credit to Fister and the defense for stopping what could have been a catastrophic sixth inning.
After 5 1/2 innings, the Pirates lead 2-0.
Update II: Desmond’s two-out single scored Rendon and cut the Pirates lead to 2-1. With men on second and third, Harper flied out to left to end the inning.
The Pirates lead 2-1 after six innings.
Update III: In the seventh with one out, Taylor felt he was hit by a pitch. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher did not agree. Manager Matt Williams challenged the play on video review. The call was overturned and Taylor took first base. The delay took approximately one minute, 25 seconds.
Pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen laced a single to left field and the Nationals had runners on first and second. Span’s single in front of Snider loaded the bases. Volquez was pulled.
Facing reliever Jared Hughes, Asdrubal Cabrera’s fielder’s choice to Davis was thrown over the catcher’s head, allowingTaylor and Frandsen, and the Nationals lead 3-2.
Then on a fielder’s choice to Alvarez, the third baseman’s throw also got away from Martin at home plate, allowing Span to score and the Nationals lead 4-2.
Fister finished seven innings, allowed five hits, two runs, none earned, one walk with five strikeouts. He tossed 97 pitches, 69 for strikes.
Update IV: With Rafael Soriano pitching in the ninth, Marte was hit by pitch. Snider singled Marte to third. Marte came home on a Soriano wild pitch and the Nationals led 4-3.
Later, Polanco dropped in a two-run double off the base of the right-center field wall and the Pirates led 5-4. Soriano was pulled in favor of Matt Thornton. It was Soriano’s fifth blown save of the season.
Update V: Against Pirates closer Mark Melancon with one out, pinch-hitter Jayson Werth walked. Span singled Werth over to third. Cabrera’s single to right scored Werth to tie the game at 5-5. Rendon lined out to center and LaRoche struck out looking to the end the frame.
The game is tied 5-5 after nine innings.
We’re going to extra innings in D.C. The Pirates are 7-5 in extra-inning games, while the Nationals are 5-8 so far this season.
Update VI: In the 11th against Brandon Cumpton, Werth led off with a double off the left field wall. Span got him to third on a groundout. Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston drove a ball to deep left for a sacrifice fly and an RBI. The Nationals won 6-5 in 11.
The Nationals have won a season-high six in a row.