Pirates 7, Nationals 2
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Tom Gorzelanny won’t argue his case to be the Pittsburgh Pirates’ All-Star representative, saying he is one of several players who could be picked. His numbers and his consistency make a good case for him.
Gorzelanny limited Washington to two runs over 7 1-3 innings in another effective start, and Adam LaRoche drove in three runs in the Pirates’ 7-2 victory Saturday night.
“I’d love to go but, if not, I’ll go home and have fun,” said Gorzelanny, who is 8-4 with a 3.05 ERA. “But I’m not going to sit here and think about it. If it happens, it happens.”
The Nationals’ offense was about as effective against Gorzelanny (8-4) as was the planned fan protest by Pirates rooters unhappy with the club’s refusal to spend money to upgrade a team stuck in a 15th consecutive losing season. Only a few thousand fans, if that, left during the third-inning walkout and most returned to their seats quickly.
Kind of like the Nationals did most of the night against Gorzelanny during a fifth consecutive loss. The Nationals scored only seven runs during the five losses, and manager Manny Acta held a postgame meeting following their 11th loss in 14 games.
“It’s time to nip some little things in the bud, and I think he did,” Ryan Church said. “Manny doesn’t have to go about yelling and screaming and throwing things. He has a certain way he does it, and I believe it’s the right way, the professional way.”
The Pirates’ big six-run second inning and a baseball-perfect night with clear skies and temperatures in the high 70s may have combined to deaden the fans’ enthusiasm for the long-planned protest, which included a pregame rally chiding the ownership for refusing to spend money on free agents and upgrade the Pirates’ talent.
Maybe the fans wanted to stay around following a rare occurrence at PNC Park: an outbreak by the Pirates’ offense. LaRoche had a two-run double and Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez each had two-run singles in the second inning against Jason Bergmann (1-5), putting Pittsburgh up 6-1.
“That’s what we’ve been missing, getting big hits like that,” LaRoche said of the Pirates, who are 10 games below .500 despite winning four of five. “We got guys on, drew walks and got big hits, and you see what it does. That’s a hard blow to take like that, a six-run inning.”
LaRoche’s average has hovered around .200 all season, but he may be heating up about the same time as he did last season, when he raised his average more than 40 points over the final three months while with Atlanta. He added his 10th homer, a solo drive in the fifth off reliever Chris Schroder, and has six hits— four for extra bases—in his last three games.
The Pirates’ breakout inning came in the first game left fielder Jason Bay has missed this season. Bay, whose average dropped 48 points in June to .266, sat out his first game of the season and only his fourth game in three seasons.
For the Nationals, it was another night of little offense and ineffective starting pitching. Their only scoring came on Ronnie Belliard’s third homer, a solo shot in the sixth, and Dmitri Young’s RBI single—the first time in 19 games Washington has scored in the first inning.
“I know some guys are struggling, but I don’t think they’re going to wind up the season where they are now,” Acta said. “But we’ve got to get right to it because games are just going by.”
Gorzelanny didn’t help the Nationals’ slump. He struck out six, walked three and allowed only one hit over his final 4 1-3 innings. He has allowed more than three earned runs only three times in 17 starts.
“It was another great pitching performance by Tom Gorzelanny,” manager Jim Tracy said. “He was free and easy tonight and the ball was coming out of his hand really well. … There has been a tremendous show of consistency with each and every start.”
With Sanchez the only Pirates position player hitting over .300, Gorzelanny’s main competition for the team’s guaranteed All-Star spot could be right-hander Ian Snell (6-5, 2.90 ERA).
“Sometimes you see guys picked because every team has to have somebody there, but we have good-enough players here to earn it,” Gorzelanny said. “Whoever is picked will deserve it. If I’m the one, that makes it even more of an honor.”
Bergmann, making his second start since being on the disabled list with a sore elbow, allowed six runs and eight hits over four innings.
The All-Star selections will be revealed Sunday. … The Nationals’ 298 runs in 80 games are the fewest in the NL. … The Pirates are 4-1 against Washington with one game remaining, guaranteeing them of winning the season series for the first time since 2000 against the team that was formerly the Montreal Expos. … Gorzelanny was lifted after walking Belliard with one out in the eighth, but Masumi Kuwata got Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a double play. Kuwata also pitched the ninth.