WASHINGTON (KDKA/AP) — The Pirates’ dropped an opportunity to end their losing streak, falling to the Washington Nationals, 4-2.
Paul Maholm (1-6, 3.67 ERA), allowed four hits, a homerun and threw seven strikeouts over six and 1/3 innings on Monday night.
Maholm kept the Pirates (18-23) in the game after the score was tied 1-1 in the first. But Jerry Hairston, Jr., slugged a homer at the bottom of the fifth, giving the Nats the lead.
Danny Espinosa, who was 8 for 73, drove the first pitch thrown by Pirates reliever Jose Ascanio into the left-field bullpen, scoring Mike Morse, who had singled off Maholm. Espinosa’s 22 RBIs leads all rookies, but has seen his average dip from .281 to .193 in the last 20 games.
Washington starter John Lannan scattered seven hits in 6 1-3 innings, allowing two runs. Cole Kimball (1-0) earned his first major league win in relief. Drew Storen pitched the ninth for his ninth save in as many chances.
Pittsburgh, losers of a season-high six straight, has scored just 14 runs for Maholm in his nine starts. The Pirates gave Maholm the lead in the seventh when Ronny Cedeno walked and Maholm moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt.
Andrew McCutchen then tripled into the right-field corner off Kimball to tie it at 2.
Maholm had retired 12 batters in a row until the fifth inning, when Hairston hit a 3-1 pitch over the left-field wall for his second homer of the season to give Washington a 2-1 lead.
Both starting pitchers labored early. Lannan threw 26 first-inning pitches and gave up an RBI single to Steve Pearce, while Maholm allowed an RBI single to Wilson Ramos in the opening frame.
The Pirates ran themselves out of several scoring opportunities in the fourth. Brandon Wood was thrown out by Roger Bernadina attempting to go from first to third on a single by Chris Snyder.
In the same inning, Snyder was caught in a rundown after a failed squeeze attempt by Maholm.