Nats win one, lose one in doubleheader

The Nationals and Pirates played a true doubleheader on Saturday in order to make up a game that was postponed due to expected rain on May 17, even though it didn’t rain a drop.

The Nats lost the first game of the day, but won the second. Back-to-back home runs surrendered by Nationals’ lefty reliever Sean Burnett in the first game’s eighth inning were enough to put Washington away. Burnett is clearly having a disappointing season as his ERA now stands at 5.72. However, Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson is not giving up on him or any other reliever.

“The back end of the bullpen didn’t do a good job today,” Johnson said after the first game. “That’s what happened. But we’re getting there.”

The Pirates kicked things off offensively in the top of the first inning as right fielder Garrett Jones and second baseman Neil Walker both came up with RBIs to give Pittsburgh an early 2-0 lead.

The Nats cut the lead in half one inning later as an Ivan Rodriguez single plated first baseman Michael Morse.

Pinch hitter Rick Ankiel hit his second homer of the season to right center field in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at two.

The Pirates took over the lead in the top of the eighth, thanks to back-to-back solo home runs by Jones and center fielder Andrew McCutchen.

Pittsburgh picked up an insurance run in the top of the ninth as pinch hitter Matt Diaz hit a single to score Brandon Wood, winnng the game 5-3.

Game two of the doubleheader began with the Nats taking the early lead as right fielder Jayson Werth scored on a groundout by Wilson Ramos.

The Pirates took the lead in the top of the third, but the Nats tied it in the bottom of the inning as Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a fielder’s choice, allowing center fielder Roger Bernadina to score.

Pittsburgh took the lead again in the seventh as Diaz scored on a double-play groundout.

However, the Nats again took the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. Washington attempted a double steal and was successful, as Pittsburgh catcher Eric Fryer threw the ball away at third base, allowing pinch runner Brian Bixler to score and tie the game. Rodriguez then singled home a run a batter later to give Washington a 4-3 lead, a lead they would not relinquish.

Yet, while the Nationals won the second game, Johnson was still not happy with the offensive production.

“It was terrible,” he said. “We had the right guys up with men in scoring position and didn’t get it done … I know it’s gonna get better. I’m optimistic. I love to score runs. I’m kind of an offensive manager, and I’ve had to open up a big playbook.”

That has been the story of the season for the Nationals. Lose a game in which the pitcher performed well, or barely win by pushing just the right amount of runs across. That is what is to be expected with young players up and down the lineup.

blasky@theeagleonline.com

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