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Fister leads Nationals past Pirates

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- The Washington Nationals haven't had as many good days as they hoped this season, but Doug Fister thought Sunday was a perfect one for his team.

The Nationals ended their four-game losing streak, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 behind shortstop Ian Desmond's two hits and two RBIs.

Washington, considered the National League East favorite at the start of the season, evened its record at 25-25 after falling under .500 for the first time this season Saturday.

"We were executing and getting ground balls," said Fister, the right-hander who was the starter and winner. "We played a lot of good defense. Guys were running downs balls and turning double plays. And we got on a roll with our hitting, too. It's a day of good baseball."

Center fielder Denard Span and right fielder Jayson Werth also had two hits for the Nationals, who scored just seven runs during their skid.

Fister (2-1) allowed one run and six in 5 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and no walks and has given up two runs in 17 1/3 innings in his last three starts. Closer Rafael Soriano pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save.

"He was really good," Nationals manager Matt Williams said of Fister. "He changed speed well and worked fast, how some quick innings. He gave us exactly what we needed."

Pirates right fielder Josh Harrison was also impressed by Fister.

"He pitched to the corners really well," Harrison said. "He had a good mix of pitches and when he made mistakes, it was mistakes that were out of the zone. He made some pitches when he needed to and it was just a matter of trying to take advantage if he made any mistakes. He didn't really miss out with anything that he could get hurt with."

Left-hander Francisco Liriano (0-5) is now winless in 14 consecutive regular-season starts, dating to last Sept. 10 when he won at Texas. He gave up four runs, six hits and four walks in five innings while striking out five.

"I'm not doing my job at all," Liriano said. "I'm not going deep into games and I'm not keeping the team in the ballgame."

Second baseman Neil Walker had three hits for the Pirates. Harrison, who hit his third home run, and first baseman Ike Davis each had two hits.

The Nationals jumped on Liriano for two runs in the first inning. Span led off with a double and eventually scored on a wild pitch then Desmond hit his first RBI single.

Washington doubled its lead to 4-0 in the fifth when third baseman Anthony Rendon hit a run-scoring triple and scored on another wild pitch by Liriano, who won 16 games last season.

Harrison led off the sixth inning with his home run, a drive into the visitors' bullpen in center field, but the Nationals got the run back in the seventh on a second run-scoring single by Desmond.

Davis singled in a run in the eighth to draw the Pirates within 5-2.

The Nationals went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position after going 2-for-27 in those situations in the previous four games. Washington is 21-1 when scoring four runs or more and 4-21 when it doesn't.

"The big thing is that we haven't gotten down on ourselves," Rendon said. "We've stayed on an even keel. We know we're better than our record. We haven't lost confidence."

NOTES: Washington activated 1B Adam LaRoche from the 15-day disabled list before the game and he batted cleanup. LaRoche had been out since May 10 with a strained right quadriceps. ... Nationals 2B Danny Espinosa got a day off after going 4-for-36 (.111) with 16 strikeouts in his previous 10 games. ... The Pirates plan to recall RHP Brandon Cumpton (0-1 4.26) from Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday to start against Mets RHP Jacob DeGrom (0-2, 2.77) at New York. Cumpton, a rookie who made two starts for Pittsburgh earlier this season, will take the rotation spot of LHP Wandy Rodriguez, who was designated for assignment Thursday. ... Washington hosts the Miami Marlins on Monday with RHP Tanner Roark (3-2, 3.42) facing RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-2, 3.41).
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