Ohlendorf pitches Pirates past Nationals
Righty tosses 6 1/3 innings; Milledge debuts, drives in two
PITTSBURGH -- It was a game of firsts at the plate for the Pirates, pitcher Ross Ohlendorf included.
The right-hander pitched well and started a two-run rally early in the game as Pittsburgh defeated the Nationals, 5-4, Friday night in front of 23,363 at PNC Park. The Pirates are now 4-1 against Washington this season.
Entering the game as an .051 hitter this season with only two singles, Ohlendorf singled to lead off the third inning. He now has a two-game hitting streak for the first time in his career.
"I was just looking for a pitch I could hit," Ohlendorf said. "I fell behind, 0-1, but felt like I could still get a fastball I could drive."
But the single could've never happened.
"If they'd thrown it, I think I might have been [out]," Ohlendorf joked.
The pitcher also extended the firsts to the basepaths. After an Andrew McCutchen single, Lastings Milledge followed with a single to plate Ohlendorf. It was the first time the pitcher scored a run in his career. It was also Milledge's first RBI as a Pirate in his club debut against the team that traded him to Pittsburgh in a four-player deal on June 30. Milledge added another RBI in the seventh.
"The inning that hurt us was the ground ball that the pitcher hit for a base hit and two ground balls that went up the middle," Washington interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "If those balls were anywhere else, those are double-play balls."
Steve Pearce provided power in the fourth when he hit a solo home run to left field for his first long ball and RBI of the season. Pearce also had his second multihit game of the year, and he has notched at least one hit in six of his past eight games.
On the mound, Ohlendorf threw 6 1/3 innings and gave up just two runs on six hits. He was helped by a tweak in his delivery. He had his longest outing since he pitched seven frames against the Cubs on what happened to be the same day of the Pirates-Nationals trade.
After surrendering a run in the second, Ohlendorf tossed goose eggs until the seventh, when Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo shot to left-center field. It was just the second home run given up by Ohlendorf in his past six starts, although both have come in the past two.
In Ohlendorf's past five starts at PNC Park, he has given up just seven earned runs in 31 1/3 innings. He hasn't lost at home since May 29.
"He changed his delivery a little bit," manager John Russell said. "He wants to start going over his head to create a little more tempo and rhythm, and I think it really helped him. He maintained his velocity, his command was very good tonight. It helped out his breaking ball as well."
The Nationals did put more pressure on with a single and a walk in the seventh, knocking Ohlendorf out of the game. But Jesse Chavez came in and third baseman Andy LaRoche snagged a foul ball over the railing of the Pirates' dugout in a near snow cone catch. Chavez then struck out Alberto Gonzalez to end the inning.
Solid defense came earlier in the game as well, including on two straight outs in the sixth. In his Pittsburgh debut, shortstop Ronny Cedeno -- just acquired from the Mariners in the Jack Willson and Ian Snell deal -- fielded a tough grounder before gunning to first for the out. Third baseman LaRoche followed with a bare-handed play to get Nyjer Morgan, who tried to reach on a bunt.
"I expected him to bunt, and he did," LaRoche said. "It's just one of those things you go and you just try to throw it and hope it's on the line."
Morgan, who was one of those involved in that deal last month, got a cheer from the fans before his at-bat to start the game.
Joel Hanrahan did give up two runs in the eighth, when Cristian Guzman doubled on a line drive past Milledge. The left fielder tried to make a diving catch but missed and jammed his left thumb. He stayed in for the rest of the game and said afterward that he was fine.
The final run of the game scored on a wild pitch from Pirates reliever Evan Meek and was charged to Hanrahan. The potential leading run then reached first against Matt Capps in the ninth, but the closer got Morgan to pop out to end the game.
Wayne Staats is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.