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Early Spark, Pérez’s Strong Outing Enough to Lift Pirates Over Nationals 7-4

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Martin Perez, Pittsburgh Pirates

Though the start of the game was delayed by over an hour, there was no waiting around for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Washington Nationals on Thursday evening.

The Pirates (6-1) put up four runs against Nationals starter Josiah Gray (0-2) in the first inning en route to a 7-4 win at Nationals Park. With the win, the Pirates took the three-game set. 

The early run support was more than enough for Martín Pérez (1-0), who gave the Pirates 6.2 strong innings in his second outing of the season.

Oneil Cruz singled to leadoff the game and Bryan Reynolds followed with a double down the left field line. After Ke’Bryan Hayes drew a walk, Jack Suwinski drove in Cruz with a sacrifice fly.

Two batters later, Rowdy Tellez grounded a base hit up the middle to plate two more. Henry Davis drove in the fourth run of the opening frame with a sacrifice fly to left for his first RBI of the season. 

In the second inning, Michael A. Taylor led off with a double off the left-field wall, giving him a seven-game hitting streak to start the season. Taylor scored on a Reynolds single to center. 

Connor Joe belted his first home run of the season. His two-run shot to left field in the fifth inning put the Pirates ahead 7-1. 

Cruz, Reynolds, Tellez and Taylor all turned in multi-hit games. Taylor led the way with three, his second three-hit performance in his last three games. 

Pérez, who was celebrating his 33rd birthday, allowed two earned runs in 6.2 innings pitched. He allowed six hits, walked a pair and struck out six batters. His six strikeouts were the most he’s had in an appearance since July 23 of last season. The left-hander threw 85 pitches and showed incredible efficiency with 61 of those going for strikes. 

Jesse Winker got the Nationals (2-4) on the board in the bottom of the second with an RBI-single. The only other run against Pérez was CJ Abrams’ solo home run in the fifth. 

Luis Ortiz entered the game in relief of Pérez and allowed a pair of runs in the eighth inning. Trey Lipscomb and Luis García Jr. each recorded RBI-singles before Ortiz was lifted for Aroldis Chapman. Chapman put out the fire and struck out Jacob Young for the final out of the eighth.

David Bednar closed out the win in the bottom of the ninth for his first save of the year. He became the fifth Pirates’ reliever to record a save this season.

Up Next

The Pirates will be back at PNC Park for their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday. They return to Pittsburgh tied with the New York Yankees for the best record in baseball. Jared Jones (1-0, 4.76 ERA) will make his second-career start after striking out 10 in his debut. Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (1-0, 1.50 ERA) will start for the Orioles. First pitch: 4:12 ET.

Housekeeping

In addition to Friday being the Pirates’ home opener, it’s opening day for Double-A Altoona, High-A Greensboro and Low-A Bradenton. The Pirates’ announced their minor-league rosters.

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