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Following another pathetically awful road trip, the Pirates returned home to PNC Park for a 3-game set against the Washington Nationals. Both teams are out of the playoff hunt (there’s a shocker), but it was still an opportunity for the Buccos to win a series against a sub-par N.L. team.

Friday, September 3: Ryan Doumit went 3-4 with 1 HR and 2 RBI, leading the Pirates to a 8-5 victory over the Nationals in the first game of the series at PNC Park. Jose Tabata, Garrett Jones, and Ronny Cedeno also chipped in 2 hits a piece, and for the first time in way too long, the Pirates’ offense was actually effective.

Zach Duke put together a solid start for the most part, but after a rough 6th inning, ended up with a line that looked something like this: 5.0 IP, 4 runs on 5 hits, with 3 walks and 5 strikeouts. In all, the Pirates used 7 pitchers, which, despite giving up 5 runs as a staff, did just enough to hold off the Nationals. The Pirates were able to win the first game of the series, giving themselves a great chance to take the series.

Saturday, September 4: The Pirates played like a Double A club on Saturday, and the Nationals took full advantage of it, lighting up the Buccos at PNC Park with a blowout victory, 9-2.

Ivan Rodriquez had a huge night for Washington, going 3-5 with 1 HR and 4 RBI. Paul Maholm had another horrible start, lasting only 4.1 innings while giving up 7 runs on 9 hits, inflating his ERA to 5.43 and lowering his record to a terrible 7-14. From an offensive standpoint, the Pirates left too many men on base, and other than a solo homerun by Andrew McCutchen and Ronny Cedeno’s RBI double, the offense was just as ineffective as they were productive the night before. After the horrible outing, the stage was set for a series-deciding finale on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, September 5: The Pirates and Nationals tallied 11 hits a piece on Sunday afternoon. The only difference was that Washington took advantage of their opportunities, and well, the Pirates didn’t. In other words, the Nationals won the 3rd game, and the series, from Pittsburgh by a final score of 8-1.

Ryan Zimmerman went 2-5 with 4 RBI. Pedro Alvarez provided the ONLY bit of offense for the Pirates, hammering a solo homerun in the 4th inning. Buccos’ starter Charlie Morton fell to 1-11 for the season, giving up 6 runs, 2 of them earned, on 8 hits through only 3.2 innings.

As to no surprise to any fan who actually follows the team, the Pirates lost another series to an underachieving team who just flat out played better from start to finish. Whether it’s the starting pitching, the defensive play, or the offense, the Pirates seem to find a different way to lose every night. They welcome the Atlanta Braves, more than likely a future playoff team, to PNC Park for a 3-game set. Hopefully Pittsburgh will be able to play spoiler, although the way they’ve been playing lately, it’s hard to believe they would be able to steal 2 games from the playoff-bound Braves. But that’s why they play the games…

Current Record: 45-91

And…As Always…Let’s Go Bucs!