Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The tarp is on the field right now, but they should be able to play tonight.
Ian Desmond is back in the Nationals' lineup after missing two games with a strained quadriceps muscle. Michael Morse is also back in the lineup for only the second time in 13 days, a product of left-hander Paul Maholm starting for Pittsburgh. That also bumps Wilson Ramos into the cleanup spot, with Adam LaRoche and Morse to follow.
John Lannan starts for the Nats, looking to take down a Pirates club that has lost five in a row after surpassing the .500 mark last week.
Updates to come, so check back...
PIRATES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 189
Weather: Cloudy, 72 degrees, Wind 7 mph in from CF
STARTING LINEUPS7:06 p.m. -- John Lannan starts Andrew McCutchen off with a fastball for ball one. Not a whole lot of people here. They did sell out their allotment of $1 tickets, but those all appear to be down the line in the upper deck. The lower deck is pretty much empty.
CF Roger Bernadina
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
C Wilson Ramos
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Michael Morse
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Jerry Hairston
P John Lannan
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Jose Tabata
2B Neil Walker
RF Matt Diaz
1B Steve Pearce
3B Brandon Wood
C Chris Snyder
SS Ronny Cedeno
P Paul Maholm
7:16 p.m. -- And the Nats are an early 1-0 hole thanks to three singles and a walk in the top of the first. Lannan almost got out of it without allowing a run when Jerry Hairston made a spectacular diving stop of Steve Pearce's grounder down the third-base line. Hairston's throw got to first just as Pearce's foot hit the bag, and umpire Dan Bellino called him safe. Tough to tell from replays, it was really close.
7:31 p.m. -- The hit-and-run giveth, and the hit-and-run taketh. It worked with Wilson Ramos at the plate and runners on first and second. Ramos sent a single through the left-side hole to score Ian Desmond and snap a 1-for-21 slump by the rookie catcher. But it didn't work moments later when Jayson Werth took off from second and got doubled up when Adam LaRoche lined right at shortstop Ronny Cedeno. 1-1 after 1.
7:45 p.m. -- Unless he turns things around pretty quickly, this might be a short night for Lannan. He's thrown 48 pitches in only two innings. Only allowed the one run so far, but he's put six men on base. Which then raises this question: Who's the Nats' long man in the bullpen tonight? Todd Coffey is unavailable after taking a line drive off his elbow yesterday. Brian Broderick is gone. Chad Gaudin is on the DL. Do you go with erratic Henry Rodriguez or lefty Doug Slaten? Could make for an interesting decision.
7:57 p.m. -- Better stuff from Lannan in the third. He retired the side and was pretty efficient doing it. Nice play from Desmond, too, going deep in the hole to get Pearce.
8:00 p.m. -- By the way, Bruce Boudreau sitting next to Mark Lerner in the front row here tonight. I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere. I'll leave up to all of you witty readers to come up with it.
8:12 p.m. -- Boy did the Nats and Lannan get bailed out by some terrible baserunning by the Pirates in the top of the fourth. Brandon Wood tried to take third on a base hit up the middle, and even though Roger Bernadina's throw was a little off-line, Hairston was able to make the tag in time. Then after Cedeno doubled to put runners on second and third, Clint Hurdle put on the suicide squeeze. Except Maholm couldn't get the bunt down and Chris Snyder was hung out to dry off third base. Somehow Lannan managed to not give up a run despite retiring only one of four batters in the inning. Still 1-1 in the fourth.
8:26 p.m. -- Nice sliding catch from Werth to end the top of the fifth, one of several nice plays the Nats have made in the field tonight. That -- and the Pirates' inept fundamentals -- have allowed Lannan to be in position to earn a "quality" start with one more inning of work. And yes, I put "quality" in quotes, because John would be the first to admit he has not been very good tonight.
8:34 p.m. -- When you really need someone to hit the ball out of the park, who do you call upon? Why, Jerry Hairston, of course! Solo homer to left puts the Nats up 2-1 in the fifth. I'll tell you what, Jerry has done a pretty nice job as Ryan Zimmerman's primary fill-in at third base. Has played solid defense, and he's come up with several clutch hits to help the cause.
8:51 p.m. -- Who would have guessed an hour ago that Lannan would be on the mound to start the seventh inning? He's at 94 pitches, so the rope may be short. Still, pretty remarkable after needing 48 pitches to get through two innings.
8:56 p.m. -- OK, Lannan walked Cedeno to open the seventh, then got Maholm on a sac bunt. (Why on earth did Clint Hurdle send Maholm, who had already failed twice on bunt attempts, go back out there to hit again?) Anyways, now McCutchen is coming to the plate with the tying run on second base. And who will Jim Riggleman call upon to face him in this key spot? Cole Kimball. Wow, third straight day Kimball is used in a tight spot. And he's only been a big-leaguer for these three days!
9:05 p.m. -- And Kimball immediately surrenders an RBI triple to McCutchen, leaving the game tied and the go-ahead run on third. To his credit, the rookie battled back to get Tabata to ground out and then Walker to strike out. So we're tied again, 2-2, at the seventh-inning stretch.
9:14 p.m. -- Danny Espinosa hit the ball really hard his first two times up, only to be denied by McCutchen. Still, you had to think he was due to connect for one. Sure enough, Espinosa crushed a 2-run homer into the right-field bullpen off Jose Ascanio just now. Puts the Nats back on top, 4-2.
9:25 p.m. -- Nice job by Kimball and Sean Burnett in the eighth. Kimball's in line to "vulture" the win now. Burnett really needed a quick, effective outing after some of his recent struggles. So it remains 4-2 heading to the bottom of the eighth. The stage is set for Drew Storen in the ninth.
9:39 p.m. -- And here comes Storen, up two in the ninth. But remember, he's NOT the Nationals' closer. Riiight.
9:42 p.m. -- Looks like the Pirates have a plan against Storen: Swing at his first-pitch fastball. Couple of hits and a hard line out by McCutchen all on the first pitch.
9:48 p.m. -- But no worries, cause Drew got the job done. That's your ballgame. Nats win 4-2. Congrats to Cole Kimball, who gets his first career win. And Storen gets his ninth save in nine tries. His updated ERA: 0.38.