Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The tarp's on the field right now, but they should be able to play today at PNC Park.
No matter the weather conditions, the Nats need to start hitting if they want to snap out of their three-game slide. Considering the lineup they're fielding today, that might be easier said than done. Only two members of the lineup boast batting averages over .225: Danny Espinosa and Jason Marquis (whose .286 average is tops in this lineup by leaps and bounds).
Ian Desmond, who committed two errors during last night's loss, has the day off. He's still in uniform and with the team, though he could leave at any point once his wife goes into labor. Meanwhile, Todd Coffey was officially activated off the DL and is available to pitch.
Plenty of updates to come live from the ballpark, so please check back often...
NATIONALS at PIRATES
Where: PNC Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 186
Weather: Chance of rain, 62 degrees, Wind 5 mph RF to LF
STARTING LINEUPS1:35 p.m. -- And we're underway on time. Skies are gray, but we're good to go for now.
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Michael Morse
3B Jerry Hairston
C Ivan Rodriguez
SS Alex Cora
P Jason Marquis
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Jose Tabata
1B Lyle Overbay
2B Neil Walker
RF Garrett Jones
3B Pedro Alvarez
C Chris Snyder
SS Ronny Cedeno
P Kevin Correia
1:39 p.m. -- Pretty feeble top of the first for the Nats. Danny Espinosa struck out on a 1-2 slider from Kevin Correia. Rick Ankiel dropped a bunt about six inches in front of the plate and was easily thrown out. And Jayson Werth bounced a grounder up the middle that Neil Walker handled for the third out.
1:55 p.m. -- Wow, not a good first inning for anyone wearing the curly W. Jason Marquis got himself trouble right off the bat when he served up a double off the left-field fence to Andrew McCutchen. He compounded his problems by walking No. 3 hitter Lyle Overbay on five pitches, paving the way for Neil Walker's RBI single to left. The real head-scratcher came when Alex Cora (filling in at shortstop today for Ian Desmond) couldn't throw out Pedro Alvarez on what sure looked like a routine grounder. Nothing about Alvarez, but we're not exactly talking about Ichiro-like speed there. Somehow, Marquis managed to get out of it all allowing only the one run. But that was not a pretty inning, in a lot of ways, for the Nats, who now trail 1-0.
2:04 p.m. -- The Nats put themselves in position to do something in the top of the second, getting back-to-back, one-out singles from Michael Morse and Jerry Hairston. But the potential rally fizzled. Ivan Rodriguez grounded weakly to second, then Correia made a nifty snag of Cora's sharp comebacker to end the inning.
2:27 p.m. -- Jayson Werth hasn't had a whole lot of RBI opportunities this season. But he's got to take better advantage of the ones he does get. The big guy came up with the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the third ... and promptly grounded into a 5-2 fielder's choice on the first pitch he saw from Correia. Not what the Nats needed from that at-bat. Leave it to Morse, though, to take care of business. Two batters later, Morse crushed a 2-2 fastball from Correia into the left-field bleachers for a three-run homer. Combined with LaRoche's RBI groundout, that gives the Nats a 4-1 lead. Morse, by the way, has quietly heated up at the plate. He's now got nine hits in his last 22 at-bats.
2:43 p.m. -- Another RBI chance for Werth in the fourth, with runners on second and third and two outs. He grounded out to short. Really pressing at the plate now, having stranded five runners in two innings, leaving his season RBI total stuck on five.
2:51 p.m. -- Marquis struggling to protect the lead he had been given. He issued a leadoff walk to Garrett Jones, then a double off the top of the right-field wall to Alvarez. A Chris Snyder sac fly and a Ronny Cedeno double to deep left-center brought home two runs, and has trimmed the Nats' lead tp 4-3 after four innings.
3:00 p.m. -- And LaRoche finds the bleachers high atop the 21-foot right-field fence here at PNC to put the Nats up 5-3 in the fifth. I'm guessing he hit a few balls into those sections during his time playing for the Bucs. Though based on all the boos he gets every time he steps to the plate here, perhaps not enough times for these folks.
3:03 p.m. -- That'll do it for Correia, who is done after allowing 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings. Daniel McCutchen (no relation to Andrew) coming in to pitch for Pittsburgh.
3:32 p.m. -- He hasn't been sharp at all, but Marquis has managed to get through five innings and keep the Nats' streak of five-inning starts alive. The rotation has now done it 20 straight times to begin the season. Marquis allowed two more hits (giving him eight total today) in the fifth but got out of it by inducing groundballs from Jones and Alvarez. Still 5-3 as we go to the sixth.
3:39 p.m. -- Jim Riggleman has been criticized at times for not letting his starting pitchers go deeper in games. Give the manager credit for sticking with Marquis today. He had a couple of opportunities to pull the right-hander in the fifth and sixth with men on base. Instead, he stuck with Marquis, and the veteran lived up to his end of the bargain. Just got out of the sixth by striking out pinch-hitter John Bowker and getting McCutchen to ground out. Still 5-3 heading to the seventh.
3:49 p.m. -- OK, who had the seventh inning in today's "When will Michael Morse be double-switched out" pool? Tyler Clippard on to pitch in relief of Marquis. Laynce Nix in to play left field in place of Morse.
3:59 p.m. -- Nice job by Clippard in the seventh. He allowed a two-out single to Neil Walker but blew away Garrett Jones with a 93 mph fastball to end the inning and preserve the 5-3 lead.
4:09 p.m. -- Laynce Nix has turned out to be a fairly productive bat off the Nats' bench. He just doubled in Cora to make it 6-3 in the eighth, and he's now got eight hits in his last 22 at-bats, with seven RBI in the process.
4:15 p.m. -- Two scoreless innings of relief from Clippard, who started a 1-6-3 double play to end the eighth. He's now sporting a 1.26 ERA in 11 appearances.
4:25 p.m. -- Werth really looks lost at the plate right now. After an 0-for-5 showing (with a strikeout) today, his batting average has dropped to an even .200. Meanwhile, Drew Storen is on to pitch the ninth with the Nats up 6-3.
4:34 p.m. -- That'll do it. Nats win 6-3 (after Werth guns down McCutchen at the plate) and snap their three-game skid. Marquis (2-0) gets the win. Morse and LaRoche hit the big homers to pace the lineup. And Storen gets his third save, tying him with Sean Burnett.