Kyle Schwarber homered again to snap a seventh-inning tie and drove in two runs for the Washington Nationals in their 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night.
Jon Lester pitched 5 1/3 solid innings to help the Nationals win for the third time in four games.
Schwarber’s homer was his fourth in three days. The Nationals moved him to the leadoff spot Saturday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader. He led off that game with a home run, hit two more on Sunday and launched the go-ahead shot this time against reliever Clay Holmes (2-2).
“When he’s swinging at balls in the zone, he’s going to hit it hard somewhere,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.
Schwarber also had an RBI single in the third and walked. His lone out was a line drive caught by leaping second baseman Adam Frazier in the first inning.
Lester made it into the sixth for just the fourth time in nine starts this season. He allowed a leadoff double, then got a line-drive out before being removed. The 37-year-old left-hander is averaging 4 2/3 innings per start this year. He does not have a win yet.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to win ballgames,” Lester said. “I don’t care how we do it.”
Wander Suero replaced him and allowed a soft single and Erik Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly that tied it at 2.
Kyle Finnegan (3-2) struck out two in a hitless inning for the win. Brad Hand pitched a scoreless ninth for his 12th save in 14 tries.
Schwarber pushed Victor Robles home with his single in the third. Juan Soto’s single drove in Trea Turner to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead later in the inning.
“When our offense starts clicking, and we start scoring runs, we’ll start consistently winning games,” Martinez said.
Kevin Newman opened the scoring with his second homer of the season to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the second.
Pittsburgh starter JT Brubaker allowed two runs and four hits in five innings.
SCHERZER ON THE STICKY STUFF
Washington ace Max Scherzer is one of eight players on the MLBPA executive committee and one of just two association player representatives. So, when he speaks on a broad topic, his words carry weight beyond his Hall of Fame pitching résumé.
He was asked Monday about Major League Baseball’s expected crackdown on pitchers using the “sticky stuff” to improve their grip, and, at times, spin rates, when throwing the baseball.
“There’s solutions to all of us and how we go forward with this and what should be the rules of what the practice should be,” Scherzer said. “And specifically, what hitters want. I think that’s the biggest question: What do hitters want? We’ve heard from a lot of hitters. All the hitters that talk publicly, they want the pitchers to have a tack over the baseball, a grip over the baseball. So what that looks like, that’s a conversation we’ll have.”
Scherzer also mentioned he knew as much about baseball’s prospective enforcement as reporters did, meaning MLB is not communicating with the union about it.
“Whatever’s been written is what we know,” Scherzer said. “There hasn’t been additional information other than that.”
Pirates: RHP Trevor Cahill was placed on the 10-day injured list Saturday because of a left calf injury, two days after being reinstated from the IL. He threw only 1 1/3 innings in his start Thursday. Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said the Pirates will take their time bringing the veteran pitcher back next time. “I think we’ll look at different ways to treat it, whether it’s different modalities or lengths of time, and just continue to go on that path and see how we can get him back healthy,” Shelton said.
Nationals: Scherzer threw a bullpen but it did not go as well as he hoped. He threw 10 pitches and his groin would not loosen up, so he will not make his scheduled start Wednesday. The three-time Cy Young Award winner said it’s up to Martinez whether he goes on the injured list or simply has his turn pushed back a few days. Scherzer tweaked his groin Friday and got only one out. He said Sunday he would not be able to make his next scheduled start if he could not get through a bullpen.
Pittsburgh sends LHP Tyler Anderson (3-6, 4.52 ERA) to the mound in the middle game of the series. Struggling LHP Patrick Corbin (3-5, 6.21) goes for the Nationals.
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