Questionalble strike zone gives Nationals winning edge.
WASHINGTON DC, May 21— The Pirates entered the fourth game of their series against the Washington Nationals not knowing what to expect with rookie pitcher Craig Stammen on the mound for the Nats.
Ian Snell pitched pretty well himself but he seemed to be plagued by what looked like numerous bad calls by home plate umpire Chad Fairchild, a couple which resulted in a walk and started a scoring rally by the Nats in the second.
Stammne was perfect through four. It was not until the fifth inning that an Andy LaRoche double just inside first base that knocked around long enough for him to get two. Later LaRoche advanced to third and then came home on a fielder's choice, Washington 3-1.
In the inning Josh Willingham, was walked after it looked like he got his third srike on two different occasions. Willie Harris followed with a double, Willingham to third. Josh Bard then grounded out but Willingham scored on the play.
Hernandez then hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Harris, Nationals 2-0. Had Willingham been called out to start the Nationals probably would not have scored.
In the seventh a walk to Nate McLouth followed by an upper deck home run by Adam LaRoch, owner of the only two Pirate hits to that point, tied the game at three apiece.
Brandon Moss came up and followed with a book-rule double that bounced into the Pirates bullpen. Andy LaRoche then singled scoring Moss from second.
It was looking like the Pirates might sweep the series until Tom Gorzelanny got into trouble in the bottom of the eighth.
Despite throwing a lot fo strikes the Nats were getting hits that dropped in nice. Christian Guzman lead off with a hard single to center. Then with the outfielders playing deep, Nick Johnson hit a broken bat blooper into center.
With runners on second Ryan Zimmerman hit a hard single, scoring Guzman, runners on first and third. Adam Dunn then came up and hit a little blooper that scored Johnson from third, Nationals 5-4.
Jesse Chavez came on to retire the remaining batters. The Pirates failed to get more than a base runner in the ninth and the Nats avoided the sweep and ended a seven game losing streak.
Snell through a lot of strikes during his six innings, fanning six and allowing just four hits and walking one.
PIRATES 2-1, May 20
Pitching a defense ruled the game on Wednesday for the first nine innings, The game tied 1-1
In the top of the fourth sloppy play killed the Nats. Adam LaRoche hit a quick single. Jack Wilson then came up and hit a smash double down the left-field line. The Nats took their time throwing the ball in and LaRoche scored all the way from third.
In the fifth Guzman hit a triple and then Johnson hit a run-scoring single to tie the game.
The Pirates got bases loaded in the ninth with just one out but it was not a hit that got the winning run home. Joel Hanrahan's bases loaded wild pitch is all the Bucs would need.
PIRATES 8-5, May 19
After squandering their lead late the Pirates needed the tenth inning to claim this victory. Brother's LaRoche and Brandon Moss were the middle of the order heroes with a combined seven RBI between them.
Adam LaRoche lead the way in the tenth with a two-run double that would put the Pirates up for good.
PIRATES 12-7, May 18
The Bucs walloped the Nats in game one of the series, getting a very efficient 12 runs on 12 hits. In the game Jack Wilson was four-for-four, missing hitting for the cycle by a home run.
The Pirates pitching was no too sharp that day, but it did not need to be and the Bucs were apparently still feeling the effects of their 10-run offensive burst against St. Louis a day early.
The Pirates head to Chicago for the start of inter-league play. They have a three game series against the White Sox before they head across town to play three against their Central Division rival Chicago Cubs.
The Pirates have one seven of the last 10 and are now three games under .500.