The Washington Times - August 1, 2009, 09:08PM

The Nationals are getting plenty of hits against the Pirates’ pitching staff. They’re just not getting them at the right times.

Through six innings here at PNC Park, Washington has 12 base hits … and four runs. Yes, the Nats have stranded 10 men on base. And there’s still three innings to go!


The opportunities have been plentiful. The execution has not. They had two on and no one out in the third yet couldn’t score. They had two on with two out in the fourth yet couldn’t score. They put their first three men on in the sixth, yet scored only one run.

Some of that is attributable to fine defense by the Pirates, especially second baseman Ramon Vazquez, who flashed his best Spud Webb vertical in robbing Josh Willingham of an RBI hit to end the sixth. But some of it also is attributable to poor situational hitting. Like from Adam Dunn, who struck out in the fifth with a man on second and no one out, and then struck out again in the sixth with runners on second and third and one out.

Counter those feeble plate appearances with the Pirates, who have 13 hits and scored 11 runs. Andrew McCutchen is mostly responsible for that, having clubbed three homers and driven in six runs. The rookie center fielder is the first Pirates player to hit three homers in a home game since Darnell Coles in 1987, who coincidentally is now hitting coach at Syracuse. What did I tell you about this guy three innings ago? He is electric.

So we’ve officially entered garbage time here at PNC, where the Nats trail 11-4.