AP NEWS

Nationals’ bullpen falls short in series finale loss to Pirates

April 14, 2019

This time, it was the ninth not the eighth inning that proved to be troublesome for the Washington Nationals.

Reliever Wander Suero allowed an RBI ground-rule double to Pittsburgh outfielder Jason Martin with two outs in the ninth Sunday and the Nationals fell 4-3 at home to the Pirates. The Nationals could not rally back, despite having the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning.

Typically in the ninth, the Nationals turn to closer Sean Doolittle. But manager Dave Martinez elected to put Suero in, given Doolittle had thrown 35 pitches in back-to-back appearances.

That left Suero to face four straight left-handers and the 27-year-old began the ninth by walking Pirates first baseman Josh Bell. A groundout from third baseman Colin Moran then advanced the winning run to second, which was later scored when Martin hit a ball to left center that bounced over the wall.

The Nationals had an opportunity in the ninth, loading up the bases. But Anthony Rendon flew out to center for the final out.