Instant Analysis: Pirates 4, Nats 2

Instant Analysis: Pirates 4, Nats 2
May 10, 2012, 2:17 am
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Game in a nutshell: Presented with a golden opportunity after Erik Bedard departed with back spasms only eight pitches into the game, the Nationals' woebegone lineup still foundered against the Pirates bullpen. Xavier Nady and Chad Tracy each drove in a run, but otherwise the lineup was shut down by five Pittsburgh relievers. Ross Detwiler, meanwhile, gave up three runs in the fourth, and that was enough damage to deal the young left-hander his second loss. Joel Hanrahan stranded the tying runner on base in the ninth, getting Bryce Harper to pop out and striking out Ryan Zimmerman to end the game. The result: The Nationals will lose only the second of 10 series they've played this year.
Hitting lowlight: Pretty easy to pick this one. Top of the eighth. Bases loaded. One out. Trailing by one run. All the Nats needed was a base hit. Or really, just a fly ball that would have scored the tying run. Instead, Danny Espinosa and Rick Ankiel each struck out hacking at fastballs from reliever Jason Grilli. Espinosa flailed away at a 3-2 pitch for his NL-leading 39th strikeout of the year. Ankiel then took a huge cut at a 1-2 fastball at his eyelids. Inning over. Rally killed.
Pitching lowlight: As well as he's pitched, Detwiler does have a tendency to let one mistake balloon into a bad inning. Such was the case in the bottom of the third, an inning that began with opposing pitcher Brad Lincoln striking out but reaching on a wild pitch. Detwiler proceeded to give up hits to three of the next four batters he faced, giving up three runs in the process. Those were the only three runs he surrendered the entire night, but they were enough leave the left-hander in line to take the loss.
Key stat: Espinosa's struggles extend far back. Over his last 92 games, he's totaled a scant 13 RBI.
Up next: Stephen Strasburg faces the Pirates for the first time since his 14-strikeout, major-league debut in 2010, this time trying to avoid a stunning sweep. He'll face fellow San Diego native Kevin Correia in Thursday's 7:05 p.m. series finale at PNC Park.