The Washington Nationals took a 2-1 lead into a fourth-inning rain delay that lasted only about 15 to 20 minutes and when they came out of it they couldn't find the appropriate pitching or hitting to maintain their lead and ended up dropping the game and the series to the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2.
Nationals starter John Lannan, pitching in his 100th career start, came out of the rain delay and gave up three quick runs by giving up a walk, a two-run double and an RBI single. Lannan, shaky for most of the night, pitched five-innings giving up four runs on five hits and striking out three. While the rain delay might have jolted him out of rhythm, this game will be pegged as a typical Lannan performance. It did not help that the Nationals defense collected two more errors on a Jayson Werth bad throw and a fielding error by shortstop Ian Desmond.
Bucs pitcher Paul Maholm busted out of his Nationals funk, by silencing the D.C. bats after giving up an two-run single to former Pirate Adam LaRoche. Maholm pitched seven-innings and left the rest to the Pirates bullpen who was equally effective against the offense-less Nats.
The Nationals fall to 10-11 and into fourth place in the NL East. The Nationals now travel back to Washington for a three game series with the fifth place New York Mets who are only a game and a half back from the Nationals. The first game, with a 7:05 P.M. EST start time on Tuesday might very well be the kick-off of the "Battle For the Cellar" in the NL East.