Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Lefties Ross Detwiler and Erik Bedard square off tonight at PNC Park.
That also means Bryce Harper, a left-handed batter, will shift into center field. Pretty amazing how much he's been able to bounce around between positions. This is his 10th big-league game, during which time he's made six starts in left field, three starts in center field and one start in right field.
Ross Detwiler takes the mound for the Nationals in search of his team-leading fourth win. If he's fortunate to be given a lead late, it'll be interesting to see how Johnson handles the back end of the bullpen in the wake of Henry Rodriguez's ninth-inning meltdown from last night. The hunch here: Rodriguez still gets the ball in a save situation.
Check back for updates throughout...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Where: PNC Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 62 degrees, Wind 9 mph out to LF
SS Ian Desmond
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Xavier Nady
2B Danny Espinosa
LF Tyler Moore
C Wilson Ramos
LHP Ross Detwiler
RF Jose Tabata
2B Neil Walker
CF Andrew McCutchen
3B Pedro Alvarez
1B Casey McGehee
LF Yamaico Navarro
C Rod Barajas
SS Josh Harrison
LHP Erik Bedard
HP Gerry Davis (cc), 1B Phil Cuzzi, 2B Greg Gibson, 3B Vic Carapazza
7:06 p.m. -- We are underway with a ball outside from Erik Bedard to Ian Desmond. It's another sparse gathering of close friends and family only at PNC Park.
7:09 p.m. -- That didn't take long. Bedard retires the side with ease, with Desmond, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman all hitting the ball to second baseman Neil Walker: two grounders and a pop-up.
7:22 p.m. -- Good lord did Harper cover a ton a ground to track down Pedro Alvarez's drive to deep left-center. Seriously, he must have run at least 100 feet, maybe more, to make that play. For a guy who hasn't spent much time in center field, he sure gets good reads on fly balls. Saved the Nats a run there. Scoreless as we go to the second.
7:26 p.m. -- Wow, Bedard threw three pitches to Adam LaRoche to lead off the top of the second, then appeared to wince in pain, perhaps feeling something in his back. He's out of the game after only eight total pitches, and in comes right-hander Brad Lincoln. So much for Davey's plan to stack his lineup with right-handed hitters.
7:32 p.m. -- Not that the Nats could take advantage of the abrupt pitching change. Lincoln came in and struck out LaRoche, got Xavier Nady to ground out to third (somehow, he still couldn't beat it out after Alvarez bobbled the ball down the line) and struck out Danny Espinosa. That's Espinosa's NL-leading 38th K of the season. He's swinging at a whole lot of breaking balls out of the zone right now. Not good.
7:40 p.m. -- Wilson Ramos' bullets to second base have been few and far between this season, but he just fired one to nail Yamaico Navarro to end the bottom of the second. Only the third runner Ramos has caught stealing in 21 attempts this year.
7:46 p.m. -- Hmm, despite the fact they "knocked" Bedard out after only eight pitches, the Nats have yet to put a man on base through three innings.
8:05 p.m. -- Well that was an, uh, interesting bottom of the third. It featured the opposing pitcher reaching on a strikeout-wild pitch and eventually coming around to score. It featured RBI singles from Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen and Casey McGehee. It featured a perfectly executed rundown play by Ryan Zimmerman. And it featured a fiasco of an attempted rundown play by Ian Desmond. With McCutchen running from second, Desmond fielded McGehee's ball in the hole and then faked out McCutchen rounding third. Except McCutchen just kept running, and by the time Desmond could do anything, his throw to the plate was late. A strange play caps a strange inning that ends with the Nats trailing 3-0.
8:10 p.m. -- More strange doings involving Desmond, who led off the fourth with a shot to deep left. Navarro, though, reached up and caught the ball at the top of the fence, technically robbing a home run even though he never had to leave his feet. The umps went to instant replay just to confirm there was no fan interference, but clearly there wasn't.
8:22 p.m. -- Has this been a weird ballgame so far, or what? The latest: Bryce Harper went first-to-third on a groundball to the third baseman. Who was positioned in shallow right field on a shift. And the weirdest moment of them all: Xavier Nady delivered an RBI single! It's 3-1 as we go to the bottom of the fourth.
8:37 p.m. -- So, in four innings against two long relievers, seven Nationals have struck out. Right-hander Jared Hughes just entered for the top of the fifth and struck out the side. Is that good?
8:57 p.m. -- Another chance for Nady in the top of the sixth, with runners on the corners and two out. ... And he grounds out to second base on the first pitch he sees. The universe is back in order. Still 3-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth.
9:17 p.m. -- Breaking news: Espinosa doubled down the left-field line to lead off the seventh. Snapped an 0-for-10 slump. And he wound up scoring on Chad Tracy's sac fly to left, a nice, professional bat off the bench. So it's 3-2 as we reach the seventh-inning stretch.
9:46 p.m. -- Ugh. Despite loading the bases in the top of the eighth, the Nats can't push across the tying run. Perhaps that's because Espinosa and Ankiel were each trying to hit the ball into the Allegheny River. There were some mighty hacks taken by both guys there, with Espinosa flailing away at a 3-2 fastball and then Ankiel whiffing on a 1-2 fastball at his eyelids. We go to the bottom of the eighth, and it's still 3-2 Pirates.
9:53 p.m. -- So much for Craig Stammen's dominance. McCutchen launches his second homer in as many night, putting the Pirates up 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth and making things even more difficult on the Nats heading into the ninth.
10:08 p.m. -- It's over. Joel Hanrahan gets the job done this time, getting Harper to pop out with runners on second and third, and then striking out Zimmerman on a 3-2 fastball to end it. Final: 4-2. For only the second time in 10 tries, the Nationals have lost a series. This one to ... the Pirates?!