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Pirates bullpen gives up lead in 3-2 loss to Washington

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Howie Kendrick quickly is making up for lost time. Limited to only five games last season because of a torn Achilles and slowed this spring by a hamstring injury, the 35-year-old Kendrick is off to a fast start for the Washington Nationals. He is 6 for 10, including a home run Saturday that sent the Nationals over the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-2.

After Adam Eaton’s two-out, two-strike homer in the eighth inning tied it, Kendrick connected on the next pitch.

“Following him up right there, I was just like, ‘All right. I want to get a pinch that I can get a drive,’ ” Kendrick said. “Wasn’t necessarily thinking trying to hit a homer or anything like that. It just happened that way.”

Kendrick started his second game of the season, and his shot off Pirates reliever Richard Rodriguez (0-1) was his second homer of the year.

Eaton finished with three hits as the Nationals denied the Pirates their first series win in Washington since 2013. The teams finish the three-game set on Sunday.

Wander Suero (1-0) pitched a perfect eighth, and Sean Doolittle escaped his first-and-second, one-out jam for his first save.

Melky Cabrera hit his first home run of the season, tagging Anibal Sanchez to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

Pirates starter Chris Archer struck out nine and allowed one run in seven innings in his third start of the season. He also singled in the seventh for his first hit of the season.

“It’s frustrating,” Archer said. “We played a great game. Our margin for error is small.”

Archer pitched while appealing his five-game suspension from MLB for setting off a bench-clearing fracas at PNC Park last Sunday. He threw a fastball behind Cincinnati’s Derek Dietrich, who stood and admired a long home run in his previous at-bat.

There were five ejections, but Archer wasn’t tossed. He can keep playing until there is a final ruling on his appeal.

Sanchez lasted seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out two. He has yet to win in three starts since joining Washington from Atlanta in the offseason as a free agent.

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