WASHINGTON (AP)—Cristian Guzman battled injuries the past two seasons. He’s finally healthy this year and has the numbers to prove it.
Guzman missed the 2006 season while recovering from shoulder surgery and was limited to 46 games last year by hamstring and thumb injuries.
“This year is different,” he said. “Last year, I was hurt. This year, thank God, … I am healthy.”
Guzman is returning to the form that spurred the Nationals to sign him to a $16.8 million, four-year deal in November 2004. He went 4-for-5 and scored two runs to earn his team-best 11th multihit game and end a 1-for-13 slump.
Nationals manager Manny Acta, whose club’s .228 average entering the game was next-to-last in the majors, welcomed the offensive surge. He was particularly happy with the top of the order—leadoff man Felipe Lopez and Guzman reached base a combined seven times Saturday.
“It’s always nice to score that many runs when you give up as many as we did,” Acta said.
Jose Bautista homered and drove in three runs for the Pirates. He has three homers and seven RBIs in the last two games.
Washington, which has won five of six, pushed across four runs in the sixth inning to take a 9-5 lead. Wily Mo Pena led off with an infield squibber for a hit against Paul Maholm (2-3), who walked pinch-hitter Ronnie Belliard before being yanked in favor of Franquelis Osoria.
Maholm, who pitched a two-hitter in his last start April 27, gave up seven runs and 10 hits, walked three and struck out two.
“The first two innings, for some reason, I didn’t have it. Couldn’t follow through, and for some reason, I was falling behind everybody, trying to fight back,” Maholm said. “You can’t let them get ahead that early.”
The Nationals sent nine men to the plate and scored three runs in the second to take a 5-1 lead. Guzman hit a bases-loaded RBI single, Ryan Zimmerman drove in a run with a fielder’s choice and Lastings Milledge added a run-scoring single.
Bautista hit a leadoff homer against Washington starter Matt Chico in the fourth, and the Pirates knocked the left-hander from the game during a three-run fifth.
Freddy Sanchez singled with one out, went to third on Jason Bay’s double and scored on an infield single by Nady. Adam LaRoche then singled in Bay and Chico departed. Bautista tied it with an RBI single off Colome.
Chico allowed five runs—four earned—and eight hits and three walks. He struck out four.
Nady doubled home two runs off Luis Ayala in the eighth, making it 9-8.
“We had a lot of opportunities early in the game,” Pirates manager John Russell said. “We had a couple of opportunities later to add on. You can’t fault the guys. They continue to swing the bats. They got down early and came back.”
Guzman put Washington ahead 2-0 in the first, homering to left after a leadoff single by Lopez. It was Guzman’s third of the year.
Zimmerman played in his 370th game, making him the Nationals’ career leader in games played. He had been tied with former Washington C Brian Schneider. … Nady was struck in the helmet by Chico in the third, but remained in the game despite sustaining a glancing blow to the temple area. … INF Jack Wilson, on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left calf, has suffered a setback in his comeback, according to Russell. Wilson’s rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Altoona, which was to have begun Saturday, has been postponed until late next week. … Both teams wore the uniforms of the Homestead Grays in a Negro Leagues tribute. Washington donned 1942 home whites and Pittsburgh was attired in 1935 road grays. … Guzman also had six RBIs on June 24, 2001, for Minnesota at Detroit.