Friday, May 23, 2014
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Volquez's Start Provides Relief For Pirates

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[May 23, 2014]  PITTSBURGH -- Edinson Volquez's first objective Thursday night was to ease some pressure on the Pittsburgh Pirates' overtaxed bullpen.

The right-hander did that as he worked six strong innings to win for the first time in more than a month and center fielder Andrew McCutchen drove in two runs and made an outstanding game-ending catch as the Pirates downed the Washington Nationals 3-1.

Pirates relievers worked 11 1/3 innings in a two-game series against the Baltimore Orioles that ended Wednesday night, including 7 1/3 in the finale after veteran left-hander Wandy Rodriguez lasted just 1 2/3 innings.

"I got in a groove warming up today and got a good feeling from the bullpen and was able to carry it into the game," Volquez said. "I want to go a little bit deep in the game because of what happened last night. I was trying to save the bullpen, but for me it was a great game."

Volquez (2-4) gave up one run and three hits with two walks and four strikeouts to snap a winless streak that stretched to April 17. He was 0-4 with 6.91 ERA in his previous five starts while giving eight home runs, including five last Saturday in a loss to the Yankees in New York.

The Pirates won for just the third time in 10 games after allowing 47 runs in their previous nine games.

"I thought he pitched a really professional game," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "Maintained composure, pitched through traffic in a couple innings early. Gave up a solo home run and just kept pitching. Used the changeup really well earlier. Quality secondary pitches, the breaking ball played for him, fastball command was good. Just a real solid effort there."

In addition to his two RBIs, McCutchen reached base three times as he singled, walked and was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the third inning to force home the game's first run. He then put the Pirates ahead for good in the fifth with a run-scoring single that made it 2-1.

Right fielder Josh Harrison had two of the Pirates' seven hits, including an RBI single in the eighth that gave them a two-run cushion.

Mark Melancon walked two in the ninth but wound up pitching a scoreless inning for his eighth save when McCutchen made a sliding catch of second baseman Anthony Rendon's sinking liner.

"He's the (reigning National League) MVP for a lot of reasons," Washington manager Matt Williams said of McCutchen. "He's a really good player. I don't think he's going after that ball unless he's sure he can catch it. It was a good catch."

Blake Treinen (0-2) took the loss in his second major league start after being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse before the game. In 5 2/3 innings, Treinen allowed two runs and four hits while walking five and striking out four.

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Volquez was facing a watered-down Nationals lineup missing first baseman Adam LaRoche, third baseman Adam Zimmerman and left fielder Bryce Harper because of injuries. Washington managed just five hits, though catcher Wilson Ramos and left fielder Nate McLouth had two each.

Washington has averaged just 3.3 runs in its last 13 games, going 5-8 during that span. The Nationals are 4-22 when they score less than four runs, compared with 20-1 when they score four or more.

Shortstop Ian Desmond accounted for the Nationals' lone run with a leadoff home run in the fourth, his eighth homer of the season, that tied the score 1-1.

"There are times during the year where you're not going to score a lot of runs and we're going through one of those times now, but the runs will come," Desmond said. "We've got too many good hitters in this lineup."

NOTES: Pittsburgh LHP Wandy Rodriguez was designated for assignment, one day after getting hammered for six runs in 1 1/3 innings by the Baltimore Orioles. He was 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in eight starts and allowed 10 home runs in 26 2/3 innings. ... Pirates C Russell Martin was activated from the disabled list and served his one-game suspension from Major League Baseball for his actions in an April 20 brawl with the Milwaukee Brewers. He had been out since April 26 with a left hamstring strain. ... Washington 1B Adam LaRoche (strained right quadriceps) began a rehab assignment with high-Class A Potomac on Thursday and went 0-for-2. He is expected to play again Friday for Potomac, then Saturday for Double-A Harrisburg before being activated from the DL on Sunday for the finale of the four-game series. ... Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann (3-1, 3.70 ERA) will start Friday, his 28th birthday, against RHP Charlie Morton (0-6, 3.45).

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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