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Nats offense overwhelms Pirates pitching

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Chad Kuhl was roughed up again Tuesday night in the Pirates’ 8-4 loss to the Nationals.

Hurdle said his “execution was inconsistent. Balls were elevated." The results backed the skipper up.

Things did not look good from the get-go, with the first five Nationals batters hitting the ball over 95 MPH, including four over 100. While he was able to navigate those strong swings with only one run against him, the Nats’ attack was relentless and piled on six runs and 10 hits in 4+ innings of work. He only struck out one batter and everyone in Washington’s lineup reached base safely against him.

While Kuhl’s recent struggles and his troubles against lefties has been well documented, Tuesday’s performance was more of the same when comparing his home and road splits. He has gone 13.2 innings total in his four home starts this year, allowing 18 runs- 17 earned. On the road he has a 3.80 ERA in four starts.

Kuhl is now 1-4 on the season. His next start is scheduled at home Sunday against Philadelphia.

TOE THE RUBBER:
Daniel Hudson relieved Kuhl in the fifth, followed by two inning stretches from Johnny Barbato and Wade LeBlanc.

Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg (4-1) went 6+ innings. He was charged with three earned runs, fanning a trio and walking a batter.

HOW THEY SCORED:
The Nationals broke through in the first with an RBI single by Jayson Stark, plating Trea Turner. Ryan Zimmerman added a two run double in the third. Wilmer Difo hit a two run homer in the fifth, and Matt Weiters tacked on with an RBI single in the sixth.

Josh Harrison put the Pirates on the board in the first with a solo shot to left. The offense was given a gift in the seventh when Zimmerman threw away a double-play ball, scoring two. Adam Frazier blooped an RBI single later in the frame, but Harrison grounded into a double-play and Andrew McCutchen struck out to end the inning.

Bryce Harper added an insurance two run homer in the ninth.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED:
Strasburg looped a ball to right to open the third. John Jaso was playing in and had a play at first, but he overthrew Josh Bell. Strasburg later came around to score the winning run on Zimmerman’s two out double.

LINE OF THE DAY:
Bryce Harper: 2-4, HR, BB, 2 RBI, 2 R

HE SAID IT:
“Guys were saying ‘screw the save, we need runs,” - Dusty Baker on his team’s reaction to Harper’s home run.

ON DECK:
Gerrit Cole (1-4, 3.06) has gone six straight starts without a win despite pitching at least six innings each time with two earned runs or less charged against him. He will face Jacob Turner (2-1, 3.31) Wednesday at 7:05 p.m..

NUMB3RS:
1. According to Statcast, Harrison’s home run only had a 13 percent hit probability. His double later in the game had a 23 percent chance.

2. Josh Bell has an extra-base hit in four straight games.

3. Coming into play Tuesday, cleanup hitter John Jaso’s .157 batting average was the fifth worst in baseball among players with as many plate appearances as him (79).

 

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