The Pittsburgh Pirates (19-8) took game one of a split doubleheader from the Washington Nationals(9-16) 6-3 after Miguel Andujar belted a huge sixth-inning two-run homer against Carl Edwards Jr.
Andujar’s contract was selected by the Pirates early Saturday morning, and he was instantly placed sixth in the lineup and played right field.
In the top of the sixth, Andrew McCutchen hit a leadoff double after a seven-pitch at-bat.
With one out in the inning, Rodolfo Castro advanced McCutchen to third base with a groundout to Garcia at first. Andujar then came to the plate with an RBI already on the afternoon.
In a 3-2 count, Andujar smashed a high-fastball 391 ft to center field for a two-run homer, and it gave the Pirates the lead for good
The Pirates got their offense going early against the Nationals.
In the top of the second, Connor Joe took a leadoff walk, and Rodolfo Castro singled him over to second base with Andujar coming to the plate.
Andujar smacked an 0-2 slider to left field, and Joe scored easily, giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
With one out in the top of the fourth, Joe came to the plate for the second time against Patrick Corbin (1-3, 5.74 ERA). In an eight-pitch at-bat, Joe smashed a hanging sinker down the middle for a 411 ft homer.
The Pirates led 2-0 at the time.
The Pirates got some huge insurance runs in the top of the eighth.
Andujar drew a leadoff walk and was subbed out for Jack Suwinski to add some speed on the basepaths.
Tucupita Marcano came in to face former Pirate Anthony Banda and took a pitch on the hand after a video review confirmed a hit-by-pitch.
Ji-Hwan Bae bunted to the third base side, and everyone was safe with Austin Hedges coming to the plate with the bases loaded and no one out.
Hedges worked the count to 3-2 and drew a bases-loaded walk, scoring Suwinski, giving the Pirates a 5-3 lead.
Rich Hill (3-2, 4.18 ERA) put forth another excellent outing for the Pirates Saturday afternoon despite getting into several hairy situations throughout his outing.
Hill’s final line read 6.1 innings pitched, eight hits, three runs (two earned), no walks, and five strikeouts on 103 pitches (75 strikes).
Hill has now gone four-straight starts going 5+ innings while giving up two earned runs or less. At age 43, Hill is the first pitcher at that age or older to do this since Bartolo Colon did it on May 29-June 16, 2016.
Hill had 13 whiffs on 55 total swings, with his curveball (five whiffs), four-seam (four whiffs), and sweeper (four whiffs) leading the way.
Hill’s average exit velocity on the afternoon was a phenomenal 84.4 mph.
The Nationals would not be denied runs Saturday afternoon. After several failed attempts to drive runners in, the National’s luck changed in the bottom of the fourth.
After Stone Garrett reached base with catchers interference called, Luis Garcia singled Garrett over to third base with no outs.
Hill struck out Lane Thomas before Garcia stole second uncontested, but then struck out Dominic Smith, with Riley Adams coming to the plate with two outs.
In a 1-1 count, Adams registered his second hit of the game, driving in Garett and Garcia on a hanging curveball down the middle. The Nationals knotted up the game at two apiece.
Garcia led off with a shard fly ball to the outfield, allowing him to advance all the way to third with a triple. Thomas then grounded out to Joe at first, allowing Garcia to score easily.
The Nationals trailed 4-3.
The Pirates bullpen was solid in game one, with Robert Stephenson pitching a clean 0.2 innings, Colin Holderman retiring the side in order, and David Bednar recording his ninth save on the season.