WASHINGTON (KDKA/AP) — A walk-off single by Matt Stairs in the bottom of the ninth sealed a 2-1 loss for the Pirates.
Pirates starting pitcher Charlie Morton (3.63 ERA) lasted five and 2/3 innings at Nationals Park. He allowed just one run and three hits.
The Pirates (41-40) got their only run in the top of the third when Alex Presley batted in Michael McKenry.
The Nationals tied the score at the top of the sixth when Roger Bernadina hit a homerun on Morton’s fastball.
Stairs’ drive off the right-field wall scored pinch-runner Alex Cora to give Davey Johnson his first win as Washington’s interim manager.
Michael Morse led off the ninth with a grounder that hit the pitching rubber and continued up the middle for a single off Tim Wood (0-3). With Danny Espinosa squared to bunt, Wood threw well inside for a wild pitch that sent Morse to second. Espinosa was intentionally walked, then Cora – running for Morse – advanced to third on Wilson Ramos’ flyout to right.
Stairs, who began the day just 4 for 32 with no RBIs as a pinch hitter, then got a hold of Wood’s 0-1 pitch to decide the game.
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle had Wood and closer Joel Hanrahan warming up in the top of the ninth. When the Pirates failed to scored, Hurdle opted for Wood.
With a Saturday doubleheader, Hurdle was wary of using Chris Resop, Jose Veras and Hanrahan. He needed Resop to rescue Daniel Moskos from a tight situation in the eighth. Resop struck out the side.
“Resop and Veras have been in 40 games. They can’t pitch every night. I’ve got to have other guys contribute,” Hurdle said. “I felt (Wood) could get them out.”
The Pirates again failed to move three games over .500. They are 0-7 in such opportunities this season, and haven’t been three games over the break-even point this late in a season since 1999.
The Pirates were 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.