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Preview: Pirates (8-8) at Nationals (9-7)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Game: 2
Venue: Nationals Park
Date: July 23, 2013 7:05 PM EDT
  

Following the dismissal of their hitting coach, the Washington Nationals showed some signs of turning things around offensively against the best pitching staff in baseball.

The Nationals will try to end to their struggles at the plate and snap a four-game losing streak Tuesday night when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates, who could be without their All-Star closer for an extended period.

With the team ranking near the bottom of the major leagues with 3.71 runs per game and a .240 batting average, Washington (48-51) fired hitting coach Rick Eckstein before Monday's 6-5 loss in the series opener.

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Eckstein was replaced by Rick Schu, who will be asked to help turn around an offense that has gone 6 for 75 (.080) with runners in scoring position and averaged 2.6 runs per game during this 2-9 stretch.

The Nationals were on their way to another lackluster performance with one run through the first six innings Monday, but Jayson Werth hit two-run homers in the seventh and ninth.

Werth has four homers in his last two games and is hitting .431 since July 4.

"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.'

Pittsburgh's Vin Mazzaro had to come in to get the final out for his first career save with the tying run on second base after closer Jason Grilli left with an injury.

Grilli was place on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a right forearm strain, and manager Clint Hurdle said Mark Melancon will assume the closer's role.

The Pirates (58-39), whose 3.09 ERA is baseball's best, will try to win a third straight by sending rookie Gerrit Cole (4-3, 3.89 ERA) to the mound.

Cole became the first Pittsburgh pitcher since Nick Maddox in 1907 to win the first four starts of his career, but he's received just four runs of support during a three-start losing streak.

The right-hander surrendered three first-innings runs before settling in for four more scoreless frames in a 4-2 loss to the Mets on July 14.

"It's the growing pains of a young pitcher,' Hurdle said. "His command wasn't good and the changeup didn't come into play until the 35th pitch of the game even though it had been a good pitch for him in his previous outing.'

The Nationals counter with their own rookie right-hander as Taylor Jordan (0-2, 3.32) searches for his first big-league win in his fifth start.

Although he hasn't yielded more than three earned runs in any of his four outings, Taylor has gotten a total of seven runs from the slumping Washington offense.

The Pirates hit six solo homers over the weekend while dropping two of three in Cincinnati, but Andrew McCutchen hit two-run shots in his first two plate appearances Monday.

The All-Star outfielder is 10 for 25 with five home runs in his last six games. He's 17 for 33 with five homers and 11 RBIs in his last eight games at Nationals Park.

"Every player always has a ballpark he seems to hit at better than other places,' McCutchen said. "I guess mine happens to be here.'

The Pirates, however, continue to struggle with a major league-worst .222 average with runners in scoring position after going hitless in 10 chances Monday.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

 SERIES AT A GLANCE
GAME 1
Pirates at Nationals
Mon, Jul 22 Final 6 to 5
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 2
Pirates at Nationals
Tue, Jul 23 Final 5 to 1
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 3
Pirates at Nationals
Wed, Jul 24 Final 4 to 2
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 4
Pirates at Nationals
Thu, Jul 25 Final 7 to 9
 Boxscores    Recaps

 CURRENT LAS VEGAS LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 PIT  +104   -200   8.5 
 WAS  -114   +170   
LAS VEGAS LINE MOVEMENTS

 CURRENT SPORTSBOOK LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 PIT  +100   -190   8.5 
 WAS  -110   +165   
OFFSHORE LINE MOVEMENTS

 BETTING TRENDS
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 PIT  55%   30%   53% 
 WAS  45%   70%   47% 
BT MOVEMENTS

 MLB HEAD TO HEAD
 Jul 22, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 PIT 6 Cover: +120 
 WAS 5 Over: 11 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 May 5, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 6 Cover: +100 
 PIT 2 Over: 8 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 May 4, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 5 Cover: +100 
 PIT 4 Over: 9 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 May 3, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 1 Under: 4 
 PIT 3 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps

 MLB PREVIEWS
 Tuesday, Jul 23
 
    Dodgers at Blue Jays
7:05 PM EDT
    Pirates at Nationals
7:05 PM EDT
    Reds at Giants
7:05 PM EDT
    Rays at Red Sox
7:10 PM EDT
    Braves at Mets
7:10 PM EDT
    Yankees at Rangers
8:05 PM EDT
    Tigers at White Sox
8:10 PM EDT
    Orioles at Royals
8:10 PM EDT
    Padres at Brewers
8:10 PM EDT
    Athletics at Astros
8:10 PM EDT
    Phillies at Cardinals
8:15 PM EDT
    Marlins at Rockies
8:40 PM EDT
    Cubs at Diamondbacks
9:40 PM EDT
    Twins at Angels
10:05 PM EDT
    Giants at Reds
10:05 PM EDT
    Indians at Mariners
10:10 PM EDT
 
 
 
  
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