Jul 23, 2013, 2:23 AM EST
|USA Today Sports Images|
Game in a nutshell: After a miserable weekend followed by an emotional afternoon in which they learned popular hitting coach Rick Eckstein had been fired, the Nationals took the field tonight hoping they might give everyone some reason to smile. They didn't. Four innings in, they trailed 5-0 via a pair of Andrew McCutchen homers off Dan Haren while also failing to hit even one ball out of the infield against Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton. Adam LaRoche's leadoff homer in the fifth did break up the no-hitter (and the shutout). And Jayson Werth's two-run blast in the bottom of the seventh (his third homer in two days) trimmed the lead to 5-3 and gave the Nationals life for at least a moment. But the positive energy was sucked out of the ballpark shortly after when Ian Krol put two men on base and Drew Storen uncorked a wild pitch to bring home a big insurance run. That really proved costly when Werth blasted another two-run homer in the ninth off Jason Grilli, trimming the lead to 6-5. Things turned serious later in the inning when Grilli writhed in pain after throwing a pitch to Steve Lombardozzi and had to leave the game. Vin Mazzaro entered in an emergency situation and got Lombardozzi to ground out to second to end the game and send the Nationals to their fourth straight loss, their ninth in 11 games. They're now three games under .500 for the first time since 2011.
Hitting highlight: Not many members of the Nationals lineup are hitting right now, but Werth sure is. He had already been on a hot streak entering the All-Star break, and he's really turned it up aRead more »
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