The Washington Nationals rode a dominant pitching performance from Stephen Strasburg to a 4-2 win on Thursday night, avoiding a sweep at PNC Park. Strasburg, who set a career-high for strikeouts with 14 in his major league debut two years ago against the Bucs, blew it past 13 Pirates in the series finale. Washington manager Davey Johnson let him throw 103 pitches in six innings. It looked like Pittsburgh might break through against him in the sixth after he walked the bases loaded, but the ace blew it past Garrett Jones for his 13th K, ending the inning.
The Pirate offense made a little noise in the fourth inning, adding two runs on a mini-rally against the cruising Strasburg. Andrew McCutchen continued his tear by singling home Jose Tabata. Bryce Harper came up with the ball and made an ill-advised throw to home, allowing McCutchen to advance to second. He was knocked home two batters later by Neil Walker. That would close the books on Pittsburgh's offense.
Kevin Correia had an impressive outing for Clint Hurdle. He made only a couple bad pitches, and the Nationals' scuffling offense took full advantage. Roger Bernadina led off the sixth inning with a solo shot to dead center to end Correia's shutout. After the Bucs' starter walked Ryan Zimmerman, former Pirate Adam LaRoche took one to center to put the Nats in front for good. It was LaRoche's sixth homer of the season. Rick Ankiel deposited one into the front row of the right field seats to add some insurance, but Washington closer Henry Rodriguez would close out the 4-2 win.
The Pirates will stay at home now and host a weekend series against the Houston Astros. Bud Norris will go for the 'Stros while James McDonald will toe the rubber for the Bucs.
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