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Nationals 6, Pirates 2

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- This season has not been the joy ride that 2012 was for Gio Gonzalez.

However, the Washington Nationals left-hander flashed his 21-win form of a year ago on Sunday as he pitched six solid innings in a 6-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Gonzalez allowed two runs and five hits while walking two and striking out five. It was just Gonzalez's third quality start -- six or more innings and three or fewer earned runs -- in seven outings this season.

Gonzalez (3-2) got support from second baseman Danny Espinosa and right fielder Tyler Moore, who was subbing for injured Jayson Werth.

Espinosa hit a sacrifice fly in the second inning and a two-run homer, his third home run of the season, in the fourth to put the Nationals ahead 3-1. Moore's three-run homer off rookie reliever Bryan Morris made it 6-2 in the eighth.

Moore, who hit 10 home runs in 75 games as a rookie last season, came into the game hitting .171 and Espinosa's average was .180.

Wilson Ramos had three of the Nationals' 11 hits and Roger Bernadina had two after entering the game 1 for 25 for the season.

The Pirates' Starling Marte hit his fourth home run in the last five games, a leadoff shot in the first that opened the scoring.

Pittsburgh's Wandy Rodriguez (2-2) also had a quality start but lost for the second straight time. He gave up three runs and six hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.

Russell Martin drove in Pittsburgh's other run with a double in the sixth that sliced Washington's lead to 3-2.

NOTES: Washington left fielder Bryce Harper was ejected in the top of the third inning for arguing an appealed third strike with third-base umpire John Hirschbeck. Harper tried to check his swing on a 2-2 pitch from Rodriguez and home-plate umpire Bob Davidson asked Hirschbeck for help on the call. Hirschbeck ruled the pitch a strike to end the inning and Harper threw up his arms in disgust. ... Nationals center fielder Denard Span (bruised left foot) was back in the lineup after sitting out Saturday, the first game he has missed this season. ... Werth (strained right hamstring) missed his third straight game but expects to be back Tuesday night for the opener of a two-game home series against Detroit. ... Pittsburgh right-hander Charlie Morton (Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in June 2012) was diagnosed with tightness in the back of his right shoulder after undergoing an MRI on Saturday. Morton left his rehab start on Friday for Class AAA Indianapolis after three innings because the shoulder did not feel right. Morton will throw on flat ground for at least a few days and the Pirates hope he will be able to pitch off a mound again by the weekend.
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