(Sports Network) - Pittsburgh lefty Paul Maholm can make it two straight wins for the Pirates and end his own four-decision skid tonight, when the Washington Nationals return to PNC Park for the middle test of a three-game weekend series.
The Pirates at least stalled a recent slide of five losses in six games in Friday's opener, when Garrett Jones hit two doubles and drove in three runs in an 8-5 win.
Ryan Doumit homered among three hits for the Pirates. Pedro Alvarez drove in two runs, while Jose Tabata and Ronny Cedeno each had two hits.
Bucs starter Zach Duke (7-12) lasted five-plus innings, giving up four runs, five hits and three walks while fanning five for the win.
Danny Espinosa hit his first career home run for the Nationals, who have lost three straight. Adam Dunn and Justin Maxwell each drove in a run in defeat.
Livan Hernandez (9-10) was pounded for eight runs on eight hits and two walks in just 4 1/3 innings to take the loss for Washington.
Maholm, the eighth overall pick in the 2003 draft, picked up his seventh win of the season on Aug. 3 after a six-inning effort in a 7-6 defeat of Cincinnati. He's 0-4 in five starts since, however, allowing 25 runs on 40 hits in 25 innings while his earned run average has climbed from 4.59 to 5.18.
He retired just 10 batters in his most recent outing, allowing nine hits and eight runs against the Chicago Cubs in a 14-2 embarrassment at Wrigley Field on Monday.
The Mississippi native has faced the Nationals six times in 154 big-league starts but has yet to record a win against them, losing three decisions while posting a 5.30 ERA in 37 1/3 innings. Maholm is 5-8 in 14 home starts in 2010.
Fellow lefty John Lannan seeks his first career defeat of the Pirates for Washington as well this evening.
The Long Beach, NY native is 0-3 in five previous outings against Pittsburgh, including a no-decision in Washington's 7-5 home win on June 9, when he was tagged for 10 hits and five runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Lannan has gone 4-3 in eight starts since, however, to even his season record at 6-6. He beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-2, Sunday at Nationals Park after allowing one run on eight hits over 7 2/3 innings.
He is 4-3 in 10 road starts this season.
Washington swept a three-game set from the Pirates back in June and had won five in a row in this overall series prior to Friday's setback.