Another offensive outburst against the Pittsburgh Pirates helped the last-place Washington Nationals halt a four-game slide. They'll try to replicate that impressive hitting display Wednesday in the middle game of their series.
The Nationals (26-40), who are at the bottom of the NL East, collected 14 hits with a season-high five homers, including a two-run shot by Lastings Milledge in the top of the ninth inning to secure a 7-6 win over Pittsburgh (31-34) in Tuesday's series opener.That powerful output helped Washington snap a four-game losing streak, during which it was outscored 25-6 while hitting .213 with one homer."We been lacking the power pretty much the whole season so to see them come in bunches today, that's a good sign," said Nationals manager Manny Acta, whose team has only won twice in the last 10 games, and ranks towards the bottom of the NL with 47 homers.The Nationals, whose .235 batting average is last in the league, are 4-1 against the Pirates this season, scoring 28 runs while hitting .322 with seven homers against them.Cristian Guzman has been a big part of that success, going 8-for-14 with a homer and six RBIs in the last three matchups -- all wins. The shortstop went 2-for-5 Tuesday to improve to 13-for-33 (.394) in his last seven games.Ronnie Belliard is also looking to build on a strong performance at the plate after going 3-for-4 with two homers and three RBIs in his return to action. The second baseman's big night came after he missed nearly a month with a strained left calf.The Nationals turn to John Lannan (4-6, 3.47 ERA), who is 0-2 with a 3.71 ERA in his last three starts, getting only four total runs of support in that span. The left-hander struggled with his control Thursday, walking four batters while allowing two runs and four hits in six innings of a 4-1 loss to St. Louis.Lannan also didn't fare well in his only career start against the Pirates on May 2, getting tagged for six runs and six hits while walking two and hitting another batter in three innings of an 11-4 loss.The Pirates hope Ian Snell (2-6, 5.65) can win for the first time since April 12.The right-hander, considered the Pirates' ace when the season started, is 0-6 with a 6.24 ERA in his last 10 starts. That stretch includes a 5-2 loss to Washington on May 4 in which he gave up four runs and 10 hits in six innings.Snell, however, is coming off a solid performance in Friday's 3-1 loss to Arizona. He yielded two runs -- one earned -- and five hits with nine strikeouts, but threw 107 pitches and exited after five innings."I think I did all right, I came out more aggressive, throwing my fastball more, and I had them thinking the slider was coming," Snell said. "I'm trying to get back my rhythm."Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit went 4-for-4 with two home runs and three RBIs Tuesday to snap out of a 1-for-12 slump. He's hitting .345 with seven homers, and is 8-for-18 against Washington this season.