Nationals 5, Pirates 4
PITTSBURGH (AP)—The Pirates could not wait to see Jose Guillen leave Pittsburgh in 2000. Five years later, they feel much the same way.
Brian Schneider’s softly hit go-ahead single in the eighth inning traveled barely 150 feet in a game featuring mostly long home runs, two by Guillen, and the Washington Nationals came back after squandering an early lead to beat the Pirates 5-4 Wednesday.
Guillen’s second two-homer game in three days came as the teams combined for five homers in the first three innings, helping Pittsburgh take a 4-2 lead Josh Fogg couldn’t hold.
Guillen, a former Pirates player cast off to Tampa Bay in a seemingly minor deal in 2000, went 8-for-14 with four homers, a double and six RBIs as Washington took two of three in the series. He has four multihomer games this season and eight in his career.
Despite driving in 84 runs during a promising rookie season in 1997, Guillen was dealt after the Pirates wearied of his frequent bouts with immaturity and a sometimes casual approach to conditioning. Still, Pittsburgh remains one of Guillen’s favorite stops in the majors.
“I like to come here and play—it’s always going to be a place where I like to come,” Guillen said. “And I got some good pitches to hit.”
As far as Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon is concerned, far too many.
“Knowing the young man as we do, knowing his strengths and weaknesses, it’s really shameful we let him go out and dominate us … we should be ashamed,” McClendon said.
There was plenty of blame to go around in the Pirates’ eighth loss in 10 games, especially after a botched pickoff of Guillen allowed Washington to tie it at 4 in the fifth.
Jamey Carroll was hit by Fogg’s pitch and moved to third on Guillen’s single. Fogg appeared to pick Guillen off first, but Guillen stayed in a rundown long enough for Carroll to score.
“It’s one of those plays you practice 100 times in spring training,” Fogg said. “It was a big run.”
“We talked about it the other day, that he’s a left-handed first baseman and he’s going to have to take the ball, turn, pivot and set his feet to throw,” Carroll said. “I took a chance because I knew he had to spin and it would be a tough throw for him.”
Hector Carrasco (3-1) pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings for the victory. Mike Gonzalez (0-3) took the loss after walking Church and Junior Spivey with two outs in the eighth, ahead of Schneider’s opposite-field single into short left field.
“He made a great play,” manager Frank Robinson said. “That won the ballgame right there.”
The Nationals won their 18th in 23 games and completed a 5-4 road trip against the Angels, Rangers and Pirates.
Chad Cordero pitched the ninth inning for his 23rd save in 25 opportunities and his 20th in a row. Thirteen of his last 17 saves have come in one-run games, which the Nationals have dominated with a 15-5 record.
The comeback was nothing new, either, as 15 of the NL East leaders’ last 19 victories came after they trailed.
Guillen homered and Church hit a run-scoring double in a two-run first, but the Pirates came back with Jason Bay’s two-run homer off a left-field walkway and Rob Mackowiak’s solo drive over the right-field seats estimated at 460 feet.
Matt Lawton hit his second homer in as many games in the second to make it 4-2, but Guillen hit his second in as many at-bats—his 15th of the season— an inning later.
All the Pirates’ homers came off John Patterson, who struggled early before settling down to finish with 4 1-3 scoreless innings. The Nationals weren’t certain until hours before game time that Patterson could start because of lower back stiffness.
Patterson gave up seven hits and four runs in 6 1-3 innings and Fogg seven hits and four runs in seven innings.
The Pirates have won only once in Fogg’s last eight starts, a span in which he has six no-decisions. … Pittsburgh loaded the bases with one out in the seventh against Patterson, but Carrasco got Tike Redman to ground into a force play at the plate and Bay to strike out. … Fogg has allowed 14 homers in 14 starts. … Bay’s homer was his 13th, but only his second in 23 games. … The Pirates had won their last five series at home. … Guillen has five homers in seven games after going 17 games without homering.