Baseball / Sports

Nationals walk off on Pirates, 4-3

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals defeated the Pirates, 4-3, Saturday night on a walk-off double by Wilson Ramos at Nationals Park.

Justin Wilson walked Bryce Harper to lead off the ninth with the game tied at 3. His wild pitch sent Harper to second. Wilson Ramos hit a ball to the warning track in right field, over Gregory Polanco's head. It bounced over the wall into the Nationals' bullpen, automatically scoring Harper.

The Pirates led until the eighth. Tony Watson entered the game in the eighth carrying a nine-game scoreless streak. He walked the leadoff man, pinch-hitter Michael Taylor, before allowing singles to Denard Span and Kevin Frandsen. Frandsen's hit scored a run.

Anthony Rendon momentarily defused the situation when he grounded into a double play, bringing Adam LaRoche to the plate. La Roche, who had two hits and two RBIs Friday night, watched a slider away for ball one. He turned on the next pitch, a fastball low and inside, and hit it into the Nationals' bullpen. His 18th homer tied the game at 3.

Watson had not allowed a home run to a left-handed batter since Shin-Soo Choo took him deep in last season's wild-card playoff game.

Locke kept the Nationals scoreless for 5 2/3 innings, during which time he allowed four hits and struck out six.

In June and July, Locke had a streak of eight consecutive starts during which he held opponents to three or fewer earned runs. A trip to Coors Field ended that streak, and another start in hitter-friendly Chase Field in Phoenix was not kind to Locke either.

Upon returning to sea level, Locke struck out seven in seven innings against the Miami Marlins, but four walks and four runs in five innings against the Detroit Tigers raised his ERA in his past four starts to 6.38.

Gerrit Cole returned to the Pirates' clubhouse Saturday afternoon, one day after his final rehab start before he rejoins the rotation. To maintain the five-man equilibrium, someone will have to exit the rotation, going either to the bullpen or to the minors. As the only pitcher with a minor league option, Locke could be the one to go, at least until rosters expand Sept. 1.

The Nationals' best chance to score against Locke came in his final inning. Kevin Frandsen grounded a ball to Pedro Alvarez with one out. Forced to play third because of injuries around the infield despite his throwing problems, Alvarez made a diving stop, but threw the ball away.

After Anthony Rendon lined out, Locke walked Adam LaRoche. Manager Clint Hurdle brought Jared Hughes in to face Ian Desmond, who lined out to shortstop for the final out of the inning.

After Frandsen's single in the first, Locke held the Nationals hitless until Ian Desmond led off the fifth with a single. Wilson Ramos got another hit two batters later, but Locke struck out Danny Espinosa and pinch-hitter Scott Hairston to end the inning and strand the runners.

Sanchez had three hits, including a two-run single in the third inning. Marte went 2-for-4 with a double. Since returning from the disabled list Aug. 5, Marte is 15-for-43 (.349) with five doubles, a triple and a home run.

Gio Gonzalez had not finished the fifth inning in three of his past five starts and twice exited before recording the final out of the fourth. He threw 111 pitches in 4 2/3 innings in his most recent start, with four walks contributing to that total.

He completed the fifth Saturday, but it took him 102 pitches to do so, and that was as far as he went. He allowed seven hits and three runs with seven strikeouts.

Gonzalez had two outs in the third and a man on first after Gregory Polanco reached on a forceout, but extended the inning by walking Russell Martin. That brought Marte to the plate, and his double to left scored Polanco. Gaby Sanchez hit the first pitch he saw from Gonzalez on the ground to left to score two more and the Pirates had a 3-0 lead.

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