Jason Marquis has been pulled after just 1 1/3 innings, and the right-hander's shortest start of 2011 was eerily reminiscent of the April 18, 2010 outing in which he allowed the Milwaukee Brewers to score seven runs without retiring a batter in his last game before elbow surgery.
In short, it was as if batting practice were extended past first pitch.
This time around, the Pittsburgh Pirates teed off for seven runs (six earned) off eight hits. Marquis was hurt by his own throwing error, a first-inning try for a force at second on Chase d'Arnaud's bouncer to the mound that sailed through second baseman Danny Espinosa. In reality, the error probably should have gone to Espinosa on what was a catchable low throw.
Marquis' ERA rose from 3.62 to 4.11, and he threw 42 pitches, 29 for strikes.
Prior to today, Marquis had been a model of consistency. In 16 previous starts, he'd failed to get past four innings only once and had gone six or more innings 11 times.
Collin Balester relieved and gave up a run-scoring single to Neil Walker and an RBI double to Lyle Overbay for an 8-0 Pirates lead.
Wilson Ramos has just hit a two-run homer to get the Nationals on the board in the bottom of the second.