PITTSBURGH (AP) - Livan Hernandez didn't feel ready to pitch when he stepped on the mound Saturday night after rain delayed the start of the game with the Pirates for 1 hour, 11 minutes.
The veteran Washington right-hander then was tagged for five runs in the first inning of his 450th career start and the Nationals fell to Pittsburgh 7-2 for their third consecutive loss.
The Nationals were not informed of the projected starting time by the Pirates' stadium operations department until a half-hour before first pitch.
Hernandez felt he had to rush through his pre-game routine and he was still warming up as his teammates batted in the top of the first inning.
``I did 10 minutes of long toss then 20 minutes of warm-up pitches but I never had the chance to go back in the dugout,' Hernandez said. ``They should have told us at least 45 minutes before they started or delayed the game longer. Somebody made a mistake.'
Hernandez (2-2) gave up seven runs - four earned - and nine hits in six innings with four walks and two strikeouts. He continued the Nationals' streak of having their starting pitcher complete at least five innings in all 19 games this season.
Andrew McCutchen singled to lead off the first then Jose Tabata doubled to end a 0-for-11 skid and Lyle Overbay followed with an RBI infield single. One out later, Garrett Jones drove a double over the head of right fielder Jayson Werth, that one-hopped the wall and scored Tabata. Ryan Doumit and Ronny Cedeno then sandwiched run-scoring singles around Pedro Alvarez's run-producing groundout to make it 5-0.
``It's very unfortunate that the numbers will indicate it was a rough inning, a rough game, but he threw the ball better than numbers will say,' Washington manager Jim Riggleman said or Hernandez. ``They hit some balls hard in that first inning but a couple of balls were just out of reach, inches away from us making a play, and it turned into a heck of rally.'
That continued Hernandez's struggles at PNC Park as he is now 1-5 in nine career starts. He's 4-1 against Pittsburgh everywhere else.
``I don't know why I keep losing here,' Hernandez said. ``I really don't.'
McCutchen scored three runs and scored two bases for Pittsburgh, which ended a three-game losing streak.
Jeff Karstens (2-0) pitched into the seventh inning for his first win since moving into the starting rotation a week earlier in place of the injured Ross Ohlendorf. Karstens allowed two runs and six hits in six-plus innings with one walk and three strikeouts.
``I was trying to be aggressive without being stupid and as efficient with my pitches as possible,' Karstens said.
Werth homered for Washington, which lost its third game in a row, and Mike Morse had two hits.
Washington got a run back in the top of the second when Adam LaRoche doubled and scored on Morse's single. However, the Pirates answered in the bottom of the inning as Tabata hit a sacrifice fly to score McCutchen, who led off with the first of his two walks, stole second and continued to third on catcher Wilson Ramos' throwing error.
Werth homered into the left-field bleachers leading off the fourth inning, just his third in 70 at_bats this season.
Signed to a $126 million, seven-year contract as a free agent in December, Werth is hitting .214. He did rob Neil Walker of extra bases with a leaping catch while crashing into the right-center field wall to end the fourth inning.
``We worked on hitting homers earlier in the day,' joked Werth, who took early batting practice in an attempt to find his power stroke. ``I do think we're working in the right direction. I know what I need to do and sometimes the biggest obstacle is just going in the right direction.'
McCutchen drew a two-out walk in the sixth, stole second and scored on a single by Overbay to push Pittsburgh's lead to 7-2.
``Andrew is such a threat every time he gets on base,' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ``He really gave us a spark.'
NOTES: Fans attending the game received figurines depicting McCutchen. ... Washington recalled INF Brian Bixler from Triple-A Syracuse and designated Syracuse LHP Lee Hyde for assignment. ... The Nationals optioned RHP Collin Balester to Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday night after he pitched a scoreless inning of relief to clear a roster spot for RHP Todd Coffey, who's expected to be activated from the disabled list before Sunday's game. Coffey has been out since April 9 with a strained left calf.
The Associated Press News Service
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