- - Tuesday, August 20, 2019

PITTSBURGH — Nationals reliever Hunter Strickland broke his nose earlier in the day while working in the weight room before Tuesday’s game.

Strickland was available to pitch, but Nationals manager Dave Martinez wanted to use Wander Suero in the eighth inning. The result was not kind to the Nationals as the Pittsburgh Pirates came back to win 4-1 at PNC Park.

“(Suero) was super fresh (but) he couldn’t find the strike zone,” Martinez said. “We had him penciled in for left-handers. Suero was the guy in that spot. He has been good for us lately.”

Pirates outfielder Starling Marte hit a three-run homer off Nationals reliever Daniel Hudson in the bottom of the eighth inning to snap a 1-1 tie. The homer came after Suero (3-7) loaded the bases with no outs. Hudson gave up a sacrifice fly to the first batter he faced in Bryan Reynolds before Marte hit a rocket toward the Allegheny River in right field.

“(Strickland) was available … but he broke his nose,” Martinez said.

Stephen Strasburg, who made his major league debut against the Pirates in 2010, allowed no runs in seven innings while giving up four hits.

Martinez cited Strasburg’s workload in his previous outing for not sending him back out for the eighth.

“Strasburg was awesome,” Martinez said. “His last outing was (110) pitches. We just couldn’t close it out.”

The Pirates loaded the bases on a bunt single against Suero.

“This game is weird,” Martinez said, noting the lack of hitting after a record offensive outburst.

It was the first save situation for the Nationals since closer Sean Doolittle went on the injured list Sunday with knee problems.

The Nationals (68-57) began the day five games back of first-place Atlanta in the National League East.

Pirates starting pitcher Chris Archer had to leave the game with right shoulder discomfort after throwing just one inning. While his team had lost his last seven starts, Archer had 2.00 ERA in three previous outings against Washington.

Pittsburgh reliever Clay Holmes took over in the second and was charged with one run over 3 2/3 innings.

After hitting 16 homers in their previous three games, the Nationals didn’t score Tuesday until the fifth inning.

And it came in old-fashioned way, as Adam Eaton was hit by a pitch and then dashed home as Rendon hit an RBI double to right-center.

The series continues Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. with the Nationals’ Patrick Corbin facing the Pirates‘ Joe Musgrove. Max Scherzer is on track to return from the injured list and start Thursday for Washington, according to pitching coach Paul Menhart.

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