After falling a game short of matching the franchise record for consecutive home victories, the Washington Nationals look to get back on the winning track when they open a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Washington had a 12-game home winning streak end Sunday with a 9-5 loss in the finale of a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The last time the Nationals had lost a game at RFK Stadium was on June 1 against the Atlanta Braves. They were one win away from matching the franchise record, set by the Montreal Expos from Aug. 28-Sept. 15, 1979.
“I don’t pay attention to that,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said of the streak. “Each time you go out, you just focus on the game you are playing. You don’t say, ‘Wow, we have a 12-game winning streak at home.’ It’s nice that we had the streak.”
Washington, which had won three straight and five of six before Sunday, lost leading hitter Nick Johnson to injury in the defeat. The first baseman, batting .320 with a team-high 42 RBIs, left with a bruised right heel and was send to the hospital for precautionary X-rays. His status for Tuesday’s game is uncertain.
Pittsburgh earned a split in its four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals with a 5-4, 10-inning win on Sunday.
Jose Mesa got the last three outs for his 19th save in 22 chances and the 311th of his career, passing Goose Gossage on the career list and tying Tom Henke for 14th place.
Oliver Perez gave up four runs in six innings for the Pirates, continuing a recent trend of poor performances by their starters. In the last 11 games, Pittsburgh starters are 2-6 with a 6.42 ERA.
“Within the course of a 162-game schedule, you are going to have a couple of bumps in the road where your starters just don’t give you those innings,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It’s going to happen. You have to ride those bumps out.”