Jul 25, 2013, 8:17 PM EDT
|Photo by USA Today|
Game in a nutshell: After entering the ninth inning up 7-3, Rafael Soriano and Ian Krol combined to blow the lead. But Bryce Harper then hit a walkoff homer – the first of his career – in the bottom of the ninth to secure the win. The Nats had jumped out early with four runs in the first inning, more than they had notched in eight of their previous ten games. They were assisted by some sloppy defense on behalf of the Pirates as you'll read in the hitting highlight, but nonetheless an ideal start for the struggling Nationals. Gio Gonzalez was not as sharp as he's usually been lately, but was able to give the Nats 5 2/3 innings of three-run ball. He needed 119 pitches on the day after walking four and striking out 11, still keeping the Pirates to three runs. Craig Stammen took over for Gonzalez and pitched 1 1/3 innings to bring the Nats to the eighth when Tyler Clippard took over. Clippard was solid with his 13th consecutive scoreless inning, preserving the one-run lead. The Nats then got three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, two on a triple by Adam LaRoche with two outs. But Rafael Soriano allowed two runs in the top of the ninth before being replaced by Ian Krol who allowed two more to tie the game at 7-7.
Hitting highlight: The first inning was good times for the Nats on offense, both on their own accord and with a little help from the Pirates' defense. Pittsburgh committed three errors and let in four total runs, only one of them charged to pitcher A.J. Burnett. The first came on an error by Pedro Alvarez at third who couldn't reel in a throw to him during a rundown, Bryce Harper came around to score on that one. The second costly error came on a Denard Span single that saw Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond both score after a throw attempt to second by Gaby Sanchez found its way into the outfield.
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