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07/22/2013 11:44 PM EDT
McCutchen hits 2 HRs as Pirates beat Nationals 6-5
PITTSBURGH 6, WASHINGTON 5
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates weren't in the mood to
celebrate after Andrew McCutchen hit two home runs in a 6-5 win
The victory, accomplished Monday night against the skidding
Nationals, was meaningless in comparison to the ramifications
that could come from a ninth-inning pitch thrown by All-Star
closer Jason Grilli.
After the pitch, the right-hander left with forearm tightness -
leaving his manager and teammates somberly hoping for the best.
"It's never good to see somebody in pain, let alone your
All-Star closer," starting pitcher Charlie Morton said.
Grilli entered in the ninth and gave up a two-run homer to
Jayson Werth before leaving with an apparent arm injury after
getting two outs.
"Pretty much he threw the ball, and his reaction was, he just
grimaced a little bit," Pirates catcher Russell Martin said. "It
seemed like he was in a little bit of pain. It just looked like
his forearm was bugging him. A definite blow. Hopefully it's not
as severe as it can be and is just something minor."
Grilli was not made available to the media after the game.
Manager Clint Hurdle tried to remain upbeat, saying, "We'll wait
and see where Grilli's situation goes. Right now it's right
forearm discomfort. We're going to wait and see how he feels
Asked what the Pirates would do if Grilli was lost for an
extended period, Hurdle snapped, "And what if he's not? Our
roster is going to be fine."
It was a disappointing ending to a night that started so well.
McCutchen connected in the first inning and again in the third
to stake the Pirates to a 4-0 lead. The All-Star center fielder
has five homers in his last six games and 14 for the season.
Both homers came off Dan Haren (4-11), who's 0-8 in 11 starts
since May 9.
McCutchen is 18 for 35 with five homers and 12 RBIs in his last
nine games at Nationals Park.
"Every player always has a ballpark he seems to hit at better
than other places," he said. "I guess mine happens to be here."
Although he went hitless in his final three at-bats, McCutchen
is hitting .431 with 13 home runs and 26 RBIs in 27 career games
Morton (2-2) gave up three runs, six hits and a walk in 6 2-3
innings to earn his first win in five starts. He was lifted
after yielding a two-run homer to Werth.
"When you get later in the game, especially if you're pitching
well - which I was - you like to finish off the outing on a
strong note," Morton said. "Giving up a two-run homer isn't
exactly what you want."
But he got the Pirates in position for the win, and after Grilli
departed, Vin Mazzaro retired Steve Lombardozzi on a grounder
with a runner on second to earn his first career save.
Werth's two homers gave him four in two games. Adam LaRoche also
connected for the Nationals, who have lost four straight and
nine of 11 to fall three games under .500 (48-51) for the first
time this season.
"There's a lot of character on this ballclub, there's no quit,
there's a lot of fight," manager Davey Johnson said. "By and
large everybody swung the bat pretty good."
Before the game, general manager Mike Rizzo fired hitting coach
Rick Eckstein in an effort to shake up a lackluster offense that
ranked 27th in batting average and tied for 28th in runs scored.
The Nationals failed to get the ball out of the infield until
the fifth inning, hit into three double plays and went 0 for 3
with runners in scoring position.
But at least they scored five runs, which matched their total
for the previous three games.
"That's really the first time we've had something going in a
while," Werth said. "It was a good feeling. Hopefully we can get
the job done next time and build on that."
Eckstein's replacement, Rick Schu, is expected to join the team
The Pirates took the lead for good after three batters went to
the plate. Jordy Mercer drew a one-out walk and McCutchen
followed with a drive into the right-field bleachers.
In the third, Haren hit Starling Marte with a pitch and
McCutchen homered on a 2-1 pitch. In the fourth, Pittsburgh used
a run-scoring groundout by Gaby Sanchez to make it 5-0.
LaRoche's 14th home run leading off the fifth was Washington's
first hit, and Werth connected with LaRoche at first base with a
man on in the seventh.
Pittsburgh made it 6-3 in the eighth, scoring a run on a wild
pitch by Drew Storen.
NOTES: Pirates 2B Neil Walker (strained oblique) joined the team
Monday after playing three games with Triple-A Indianapolis.
Hurdle said Walker will be activated off the disabled list on
Tuesday "If he shows us he's good to move around." ... Nationals
starting pitchers have one win in the last 11 games. ...
Pittsburgh's Clint Barmes played in his 1,000th career game. ...
The Pirates have eight homers in their last four games. ...
Pittsburgh went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
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