Baseball / Sports

Pirates prevail for 3rd straight against Nationals, 4-3

PITTSBURGH -- Charlie Morton finally got a couple of balls to bounce his way to break his personal losing streak while extending the Pirates winning streak to three games.

Morton pitched 5 2/3 innings Friday night and allowed only five hits and one run (earned). The Pirates played both small ball and long ball to grab an early lead and then held on for a 4-3 win over the Nationals.

It wasn't a thing of beauty by Morton and he wasn't exactly efficient -- he walked four and hit a batter and threw 108 pitches (64 for strikes) -- but it was good enough for his first win in 15 starts.

It also broke Morton's 7-decision losing streak and he improved to 1-6 on the season. Morton's last win was Sept. 2 of last season against the Brewers.

The other big development of the night was that Pirates closer Jason Grilli was back on the mound after a stint on the disabled list (left oblique sprain).

And even though manager Clint Hurdle said before the game that Grilli would not appear in the 9th inning in a save situation for at least a few games, Grilli pitched the 9th and notched his 5th save of the season.

The plan likely was altered when the other two viable candidates to close -- Justin Wilson and Bryan Morris -- were needed in the 7th and 8th innings. And Mark Melancon, who had been in the closer's role, was not available as he had pitched three times in the last five games.

Grilli was sharp as he shook off an inning-opening walk to Anthony Rendon to strike out Jaysen Werth and get Wilson Ramos and Ian Desmond to fly out.

Desmond's shot looked like it could be trouble as it tailed away from Pirates right fielder Josh Harrison and flew deep to the wall but Harrison made a nice adjustment and made a leaping catch to end the game.

(c)2014 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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