Nationals nip Pirates 2-1
Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison (62) leaps to catch a fly ball during the fourth inning as Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno (5) watches in Washington on Friday night. (AP photo)
Stairs’ drive off the right-field wall scored pinch-runner Alex Cora to give Johnson his first win as Washington’s 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.
Johnson improved to 1-3 since taking over for John McLaren, who had three games as the interim manager following Jim Riggleman’s abrupt resignation last week. Johnson has created a new vibe around the club, but his results are similar: The woeful-hitting, decent-pitching Nationals now have played 11 games since June 1 in which is the final score has been 2-1, 2-0 or 1-0.
A further indication of the type of games the Nationals play: Closer Drew Storen (5-2) pitched the ninth and got another win instead of a save.
Tom Gorzelanny became the latest Nationals starter to have a solid outing fail to make a positive dent in his won-loss record. The left-hander, who had lost four straight starts, struck out eight in seven innings, yielding an unearned run and six hits. He became the second straight Washington starter to not allow an unearned run without getting the win — Jordan Zimmermann took a 1-0 loss on Wednesday.
At least this time it was the pitcher himself who made the critical error. 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 Morton in 69 1-3 innings.
The Nationals were poised to take the lead with two on and nobody out in the eighth, but Chris 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.
NOTES: The Pirates (41-40) again failed to get three games over .500. They are 0-7 this season when two games over. ... 1B Morse made his first error in 215 games on a bad toss to Gorzelanny on a grounder in the third inning. His last error came on Aug. 15, 2005. ... 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. ... The Nationals also had a different face coaching first. Trent Jewett took over for Dan Radison, who was fired in the latest shakeup following Johnson’s hiring. Friday was also the first game for Pat Corrales as Washington’s new bench coach. Corrales takes over for McLaren, who is now a scout.