Guzman Powers Nationals Past Pittsburgh

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, May 05, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

Washington, DC--Washington Nationals' shortstop Cristian Guzman tied a personal best with six RBIs and the Nationals held on in the ninth to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-8 Saturday afternoon.

Guzman has battled injuries for the last several seasons, but finally healthy he's been the Nationals' most consistent hitter all season. He finished the day 4-for-5 with a two-run home run, a three-run double and a run-scoring single on the day. The fun started right away for Guzman and the Nats, as Felipe Lopez led off in the first inning against Pirates starter Paul Maholm (2-3) with a single to right and Guzman followed up with with his rocket shot to the Pirates bullpen to give the Nats the early lead.

In the second inning, catcher Paul LoDuca singled to center, and following a Wily Mo Pena strikeout, pitcher Matt Chico singled to right and Lopez walked, setting the stage for Guzman's second hit of the game. Guzman drilled a single to center that plated LoDuca and kept the bases loaded. Ryan Zimmerman grounded to first forcing in a run and Lastings Milledge capped the scoring in the second, singling to right to drive in Lopez, and the Nats held a 5-1 lead after two innings.

But the Pirates would not go quietly while Nationals' starter Matt Chico continued his season of ineffectiveness. He allowed a run in the second, a solo home run to Nats-killer Jose Bautista in the fourth, and three more runs in the fifth on five hits. Chico would not make it through the fifth despite being handed a 5-1 lead, and the Nats would have to depend on their bullpen once again to deliver them to victory.

Chico's final numbers were not pretty: four and one-third innings pitched, five runs--four earned--eight hits and three walks.

The Nats recaptured the lead in the sixth with a four-run outburst, including Guzman's bases clearing double with the bases loaded.

The Pirates scratched out single runs in the seventh and eights to close the lead down to one run, but newly-crowned closer Jon Rauch shut the door in the ninth for his seventh save of the season. Jesus Colome (1-1) got the win, throwing one and two-thirds scoreless innings for the squad.

NATS NOTES: The curly W gives the Nats a record of 13-18, four games behind first place Philadelphia.

The Nationals and Pirates honored the Negro Leagues' Homestead Grays, each wearing the uniform of the team that called both cities home. The baggier-than-usual uniforms looked better on some players than others, but the sentiment was strong--including tributes to Negro League players before and during the game.

Guzman Powers Nationals Past Pittsburgh also posted at DC Sports Box

Photo (c) C. Nichols 2008