A surge at the plate has led the Pittsburgh Pirates to their longest winning streak of the season. They’ll have a good chance to extend that run if they get more chances against the Washington Nationals’ bullpen.
After yet another productive performance from their lineup, the Pirates look to win their fifth straight and hand the Nationals their seventh consecutive defeat as the teams continue a four-game series Wednesday night.
Pittsburgh (18-21) is averaging 9.5 runs during its last four games, scoring 11 against Colorado on Sunday and 12 versus Washington (11-27) in this series’ opener. The Pirates had five runs through nine innings before beating the Nationals 8-5 in 10 innings Tuesday night.
Pittsburgh has won six of eight, scoring at least five runs in each victory. Before that stretch, the Pirates averaged 2.6 runs during an eight-game losing streak.
“We came in with hopes to take this series, definitely,” LaRoche said. “On the other hand, I know they’re thinking the same thing, ‘Oh, the Pirates are coming in, this will be a good time to get on track.’ … This is a good opportunity for us to get something going.”
It was another letdown for a Washington bullpen that has a collective 1-14 record and a major league-worst 6.68 ERA. Five Nationals relievers combined to allow nine runs in four innings during the series opener before Joe Beimel(notes) gave up all three runs in the 10th on Tuesday.
Washington is in danger of matching its longest losing streak of the season even though its lineup has not faltered. The Nationals are the fourth team in major league history to score at least five runs in every matchup during a six-game losing streak, joining the 1929 Pirates, 2004 Cincinnati Reds and 2005 Texas Rangers.
“We continue to put runs on the board,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said. “This is the 10th game in a row where we score five or more runs - and we’re 1-9. That tells you the story right now.”
The Nationals now face Pittsburgh’s Paul Maholm(notes) (3-1, 3.51 ERA), who has surrendered two runs or fewer in five of his eight starts. The left-hander gave up five hits in seven scoreless innings against Colorado on Friday night, but the Pirates lost 3-1.
Maholm, though, is 0-1 with a 10.45 ERA in his last two road starts. He was terrible in losing his only start at Washington, allowing seven runs and 10 hits in five innings as Pittsburgh lost 9-8 on May 3, 2008.
Maholm is 0-2 with a 6.12 ERA in four starts overall against the Nationals.
Washington will counter with John Lannan(notes) (2-3, 4.00), who is 2-1 with a 2.50 ERA in his last six starts. The left-hander allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings during Washington’s 10-6, 12-inning loss to Philadelphia on Friday night.
Lannan is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in two career starts against Pittsburgh.
Zimmerman is batting .385 with four homers, seven doubles and 15 RBIs in 19 home games.