The doubleheader is a rare occurrence in baseball these days, and the Nationals played one this past Saturday to the delight and exhaustion of one Nationals fan who took in the experience of a doubleheader for the first time.
The Washington Nationals looked like they were going to get swept in a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but that was before their eighth-inning rally. The Nationals worked the count and manufactured two runs to sneak ahead for a 4-3 win in the night game of the doubleheader.
The Nationals tied the game when Brian Bixler stole third base, then advanced to score because the Pirates' throw went astray. Two batters later, Ivan Rodriguez, pinch-hitting after starting the first game, ripped a single to score Rick Ankiel and give the Nationals the lead. Drew Storen then came on and pitched a perfect ninth inning to pick up his 20th save of the season.
The Nationals are now 42-42 on the year and have taken two of three from the Pirates in the series. The two teams will play again on Sunday.
The Nationals had tied the score at two on a home run by Rick Ankiel, who pinch-hit for Livan Hernandez in the seventh inning. But Hernandez was forced out of the game because of it and Sean Burnett entered. Burnett retired one batter, then surrendered the back-to-back home runs, continuing his struggling season. The Pirates added an insurance run in the ninth for the margin of victory.
Hernandez and Pirates starter James McDonald pitched into the seventh inning, but got no-decisions. Jose Veras got the win for Pittsburgh, while Burnett suffered the loss. Game 2 of the doubleheader will begin at 7:05 p.m.
The Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates will play a doubleheader on Saturday to make up a rained-out game from earlier in the season. The first game will be at 3:30 p.m. at Nationals Park, while the second game is scheduled to begin at 7:05, though that ultimately depends on when the first game is finished.
The Nationals snapped their losing skid on Friday night when Matt Stairs hit a walk-off home run to give Washington a 2-1 win. The win was also Davey Johnson's first as Nationals manager, and it moved Washington back to .500.