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It's hard to find two weeks more trying for the Nationals this season than the two that just ended. Last week, they resigned themselves to the fact that Stephen Strasburg would be out the rest of this year and, at best, most of next year after Tommy John surgery. This week, they made national headlines again, with Nyjer Morgan capping off a tumultuous stretch by charging the mound on Wednesday and earning an eight-game suspension on Friday.
But on Saturday night, as they did last Saturday, the Nationals took out their frustration with an emphatic - if sloppy - win.
They beat the Pirates 9-2 on Saturday night, overcoming three errors (two by shortstop Ian Desmond) and capitalizing on some of Pittsburgh's own mistakes. The victory, like last Saturday's 14-5 win over the Cardinals, served as a bit of a release.
Nats' acting manager John McLaren talks with Johnny and Phil about the 9-2 win over the Pirates
Ivan Rodriguez homered for the third time this year, driving in four runs on a 3-for-5 night. Desmond also had three hits, and Morgan, Michael Morse, Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa all had multi-hit games. And John Lannan, coming off a one-run, 7 2/3-inning performance, might have been better. He allowed a run in seven innings, giving up five hits and striking out a season-high seven. Lannan got nine groundouts against four flyouts, peppering in his changeup amongst his typical fastball-heavy repertoire.
The Nationals improved to 2-3 on the road trip, and are now 58-78 on the season. With a win on Sunday, they could salvage a .500 road trip, finish their season series against the Pirates 5-1 and tie their win total from each of the last two seasons.