After a day off on Thursday, the Pittsburgh Pirates welcomed the Washington Nationals to PNC Park for the start of a three-game series on Friday night. Both of these teams are currently in rebuild mode after being sellers at the trade deadline, but that didn’t mean they weren’t playing for the win. This was a back-and-forth contest, that Pittsburgh would ultimately win on a ninth inning comeback.
Washington was able to get to Pirates starter Steven Brault in the second inning with a pair of runs. Riley Adams would triple home Carter Kieboom. Adams was then brought in on a Lane Thomas single to left center. Brault would leave the game after the second inning complaining of left arm discomfort. This is not a good sign for Brault who has already missed most of the season while being on the injured list.
Pittsburgh cut the Nationals lead to one in the third on a Ke’Bryan Hayes sac fly that scored Cole Tucker. Washington got that run back in the sixth when former Bucco Josh Bell crushed a 440 ft. home run to left center field. Bell would go 1-2 tonight with two walks in his return to PNC Park. Down two runs in the seventh, Anthony Alford went yard with a 360 ft. homer to right to once again cut the Nationals lead to one.
Down a run going in to the bottom of the ninth, the Pirates would collect the tying run on a Colin Moran groundout that allowed Alford to score. With two outs and a runner on third, Hayes would drive in Ben Gamel on a single to right to lift Pittsburgh to a 4-3 victory.
After the short outing from Brault, the Pirates bullpen did a great job keeping this game close. Cody Ponce struck out two batters and walked one during three innings on the mound. Sam Howard pitched the sixth and seventh inning, allowing one run on one hit with two strikeouts. A scoreless inning from Nick Mears in the eighth, paved the way for Chad Kuhl in the ninth and allowed him to pick up his fifth win of the year.
It can be tough this time of year to stay connected to a team that is out of the playoff race, but games like this can help remind us why we love baseball in the first place. A walk off win is always one of the most exciting moments that the game has. This three-game set will continue tomorrow night at 6:35pm. Scheduled starters are Wil Crowe for Pittsburgh and Josiah Gray for Washington.
Record vs. Nationals: 1-3
Record vs. N.L. East: 13-12
Record at Home: 31-39
Overall Record: 51-90
Let’s Go Bucs!