WASHINGTON (AP) - There was a long list of problems for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday. They wasted a couple scoring opportunities. They used five relievers the night before a doubleheader. They let a 43-year-old pinch hitter beat them in the ninth inning.
Matt Stairs' single gave the Washington Nationals a 2-1 win over the Pirates in Davey Johnson's home debut.
Stairs' drive off the right-field wall scored pinch-runner Alex Cora to hand Johnson his first win as the Nationals' interim manager.
Michael Morse led off the ninth with a grounder that hit the pitching rubber and continued up the middle for a single off Tim Wood (0-3). With Danny Espinosa squared to bunt, Wood threw well inside for a wild pitch that sent Morse to second. Espinosa was intentionally walked, then Cora - running for Morse - advanced to third on Wilson Ramos' flyout to right.
Stairs, who began the day just 4 for 32 with no RBIs as a pinch hitter, then got a hold of Wood's 0-1 pitch to decide the game.
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle had Wood and closer Joel Hanrahan warming up in the top of the ninth. When the Pirates failed to scored, Hurdle opted for Wood.
With a Saturday doubleheader, Hurdle was wary of using Chris Resop, Jose Veras and Hanrahan. He needed Resop to rescue Daniel Moskos from a tight situation in the eighth. Resop struck out the side.
``Resop and Veras have been in 40 games. They can't pitch every night. I've got to have other guys contribute,' Hurdle said. ``I felt (Wood) could get them out.'
The Pirates (41-40) again failed to move three games over .500. They are 0-7 in such opportunities this season, and haven't been three games over the break-even point this late in a season since 1999.
The Pirates were 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
``We had multiple guys have shots driving in that run,' Hurdle said.
Washington's Tom Gorzelanny, who had lost four straight starts, struck out eight in seven innings, yielding an unearned run and six hits. Drew Storen (5-2) pitched the ninth and got the win.
Gorzelanny mishandled Charlie Morton's bunt after Michael McKenry led off with a single in the third. McKenry took third on Gorzelanny's throw and scored on Alex Presley's groundout.
Morton was just as effective, allowing three hits over 5 2-3 innings. His only mistake was a first-pitch fastball that Roger Bernadina deposited in the center-field stands leading off the sixth, the first homer given up by the right-hander in 69 1-3 innings.
It was his first outing since he allowed seven runs - six earned - to Baltimore on June 20.
``I got into a little bit of a groove,' Morton said. ``It's not like I missed a month and came back.'
The Nationals were poised to take the lead with two on and nobody out in the eighth, but Resop came in and shut them down. Rick Ankiel led off the inning with a single off Daniel Moskos, and Bernadina reached on an error attempting to sacrifice. Moskos was then relieved by Resop, who struck out Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman looking and Laynce Nix swinging.
``I don't pay attention to who I face,' Resop said. ``I know who these guys are.'
NOTES: Pirates 2B Neil Walker, who missed the previous game with a sore back, entered as a late-inning sub. ... Pittsburgh OF Xavier Paul did not start for the third straight game due to right hamstring tightness. ... Nick Leyva, who normally coaches third base for the Pirates, has a back injury. For the second straight game, Luis Silverio coached third and Mark Strittmatter was at first. ... Pittsburgh is expected to recall RHP Brad Lincoln from Triple-A Indianapolis to start the second game of Saturday's doubleheader.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved