A.J. Burnett allowed one run and struck out nine in seven shutout innings, and call-up Jordy Mercer hit a tiebreaker home run to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.
Burnett (3-2) gave up five hits and one walk in winning his third straight after going 0-2 in his first three starts. He also raised his NL-leading strikeout total to 57.
Mercer’s two-run home run off Ross Detwiler (1-3) in the fifth inning put the Pirates ahead for good 3-1. Mercer was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis before the game when second baseman Neil Walker was placed on the disabled list with a right hand injury.
Detwiler went five innings and gave up three runs and six hits while walking two and striking out five.
The Pirates won for the fourth time in six games and the Nationals lost for the fourth time in six games.
Andrew McCutchen had three hits, including a home run, for Pittsburgh. Leadoff hitter Starling Marte and Gaby Sanchez added two hits apiece.
Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless eighth and Jason Grilli shut out the Nationals in the ninth for his 12th save in as many chances.
Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche went 2 for 3 to equal the number of hits he had in his previous 11 games and 38 at-bats.
McCutchen hit a solo shot off Detwiler in the bottom of the first inning to open the scoring. The center fielder has 10 home runs against Washington in 24 games.
The Nationals tied it in the fourth on Danny Espinosa’s RBI single. It was just the second hit in the last 23 at-bats for the second baseman.
NOTES: Washington activated 3B Ryan Zimmerman from the 15-day disabled list before the game and he went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts. INF Anthony Rendon was sent to Double-A Harrisburg of the Eastern League to make roster space. Zimmerman had been on the disabled list since April 18 with a strained left hamstring and the Nationals were 6-8 in his absence. ... The Pirates are hoping Walker can return May 12. ... Pittsburgh selected the contract of veteran
RHP Jose Contreras from Triple-A Indianapolis and optioned RHP Jared Hughes to the same club. ... Washington RF Jayson Werth did not play Friday and is likely to miss the three-game series with a strained right hamstring. ... Pittsburgh RHP Charlie Morton was removed after three innings Friday night from his rehab start with Triple-A Indianapolis because of shoulder inflammation. He is recovering from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery performed last June. ... Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-4, 3.16) looks to snap his four-game losing streak Saturday when he faces left-hander Jeff Locke (3-1, 2.83), who has pitched 13 scoreless innings while winning his last two starts.