Espino (1-2) allowed three hits in five scoreless innings. He struck out two, walked none and threw 39 of his 53 pitches for strikes, a 74% strike rate. “I didn’t know how far they were going to let me go, so I was just focusing on being efficient,” Espino said.
Espino pitches Nationals to sweep of Pirates | News, Sports, Jobs Washington has won four straight. The Pirates extended their skid to 10 games.
“That’s awesome,” Martinez said of Espino’s first win. “Really is.” Yan Gomes hit his seventh homer of the season in the second inning off Chase De Jong (0-1). Bell hit a 1-0 fastball into the right-center field stands, his ninth homer of the year, to give the Nationals a 3-0 lead in the seventh.
Brad Hand got the final five outs, allowing consecutive two-out singles in the ninth before retiring the side for his 13th save. Max Scherzer (groin) was placed on the 10-day injured list Tuesday. The Nationals debated who to use in his rotation spot before settling on Espino, who was drafted in 2006 and made his fifth career big league start. Manager Dave Martinez had Espino speak to the team afterward.
Bryan Reynolds singled home Ke’Bryan Hayes in the eighth for the Pirates’ only run. The Nationals loaded the bases with one out in the fourth and sixth innings but did not score. Jordy Mercer struck out and Victor Robles flied out in the fourth. Ryan Zimmerman’s flyout to deep center on a 2-0 pitch from Chris Stratton ended the later threat.
ROSTER MOVE “We’ve just got to keep going,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “There’s no magic elixir. If there was, we would have used it already.”
The Nationals placed third baseman Starlin Castro on the restricted list Wednesday and called up second baseman Luis Garcia. “We’ve just got to keep going,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “There’s no magic elixir. If there was, we would have used it already.”
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