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Pirates Keep Rolling; Off to Best Start Since 1983 With 8-4 Win Over Nats



Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates rallied in the late innings to take down the Washington Nationals 8-4 at Nationals Park on Monday, giving them their fifth win in a row and their best start to a season in over four decades. 

The last time the Pirates won their first five games to start a season came in 1983.

With the score tied at 3-all in the top of the eighth inning, Michael A. Taylor laid down a dandy of a bunt and legged it out for a base hit. Taylor advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Alika Williams and scored on Connor Joe’s fourth double of the season.

Joe traded places with Ke’Bryan Hayes on the latter’s hustle double up the middle to tack on an insurance run for Pittsburgh. Andrew McCutchen ripped an RBI-single to left field for his second hit of the day, putting the Pirates up 6-3. 

McCutchen snapped an 0-for-11 skid and narrowly missed out on his 300th homer with a double off the wall in right-center field in the top of the seventh for his first hit of the season.

The Pirates loaded the bases in the top of the ninth for Bryan Reynolds, who doubled home a pair off the base of the right-field wall. Through his first five games of the season, Reynolds has driven in eight runs.

Taylor, who played for the Nationals from 2014-20, received a round of applause as he stepped up to the plate for his first at-bat in the second inning. After Taylor tipped his helmet to the crowd and put it back on his head, he got the Pirates on the board with a hard-hit sacrifice fly to left field. Taylor recorded his first-three hit performance since June 4 last season. 

Later on in the second inning, Reynolds put the Pirates ahead 2-0 on a groundout to third base. Oneil Cruz, who singled to left field, scored on the play.

Reynolds singled in his first at-bat of the game and extended his on-base streak to 33 games in the process. Reynolds also drew a walk in addition to his two hits and three RBIs.

With eight more runs on Monday, the Pirates have scored six or more runs in each of their first five games in the Modern Era.

The Nationals (1-3) cut the Pirates’ lead to 2-1 in the third inning. Victor Robles walked and stole second and came around to score on a Lane Thomas base hit the other way. 

Henry Davis roped a pair of doubles for the Pirates. He led off the sixth with his second double of the game and scored on Joe’s infield single to put the Pirates up by a pair. 

Pirates starter Marco Gonzales fared well through five innings in his Pirates’ debut but ran into some trouble during the sixth inning. CJ Abrams led off the inning with a base hit and Thomas followed with a 13-pitch walk.

After the lengthy free pass, manager Derek Shelton called Roansy Contreras out of the bullpen for his first appearance of the season. Contreras (1-0) prevented either run from scoring and struck out a pair to end the threat but surrendered a game-tying two run homer to Riley Adams in the seventh. 

Gonzales allowed just a lone run in five-plus innings pitched. The left-hander yielded four hits, walked two and struck out a pair. 

After CJ Adams looped a two-out RBI-single against Ryder Ryan, Aroldis Chapman came in from the bullpen and shut the door for his first Pirates’ save. Chapman becomes the fourth Pirates’ reliever with a save this season, joining Josh Fleming, Hunter Stratton and Jose Hernandez.

Up Next

The Pirates will have an off day on Tuesday before they look to make it six in a row to start the year on Wednesday. Mitch Keller (0-0, 6.35 ERA) will make his second start of the season. Former Pirate Trevor Williams will make his season debut for the Nationals. First pitch: 6:45 ET.

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