(All photos Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)

It was not the prettiest game of the season, but on a muggy, overcast night in the nation's capital, the home team found a way to pull one out.

Despite a rough appearance from their starter, two scored errors and several other defensive gaffes, the Washington Nationals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-5, before 18,876, less than half that witnessed the debut of Stephen Strasburg just 24 hours earlier.

The hangover effect from Tuesday's spectacular was pronounced, from the fans in the stands to the players on the field.  The debut was exhausting, and it took its toll on everyone.

It was a sloppy game from the start, and miscues contributed to much of the scoring, including two badly played balls by Nats ceter fielder Nyjer Morgan, who twice missed the cut-off man, allowing runners to move up a base and eventually score on singles.

Wil Nieves also had a throwing error on a stolen base attempt, and the Pirates swiped four bases off Nieves and starter John Lannan.

The Nationals broke a five-all tie in the bottom of the seventh, when Ryan Zimmerman bashed a single off the shin of Pirates relief pitcher D.J. Carrasco (L, 1-2) to plate Cristian Guzman.  The second baseman had reached on a single to center and was moved up on a sacrifice by Morgan.

Washington added an insurance run in the eighth.  Josh Willingham coaxed a walk off releiver Brendan Donnelly, went to third on a Roger Bernadina through the vacated shortstop hole on a hit-and-run, and scored on a Nieves sacrifice fly to center field.

Lannan, who looked like he might have turned the corner recently from his lousy start of teh season, reverted last night.  He was not sharp with his fastball, causing him to leave too many hittable pitches in the strike zone.  He gave up ten hits in and three walks (one intentional) in 4 2/3 innings, leading to five runs, four of which were earned.  He struck out two in the effort. 

Indicitive of his performance, Lannan gave up nine fly ball outs, comared to just two ground ball outs.  He would prefer those numbers switched.

Once Lannan was lifted one out from qualifying for the win, things turned around for the Nats.  Four relievers combined for 4 1/3 shutout innings of relief.

Tyler Walker struck out two in his 1 1/3 and Drew Storen (W, 2-0, 1.74) allowed a single in an otherwise clean frame.  Tyler Clippard continued his mastery with a perfect inning, and Matt Capps gave up a base hit, but closed things down for his 20th save of the season.

Livan Hernandez (4-3) will try to secure the sweep tonight at Nats Park against Zack Duke (3-6) at 7:05 pm.

NATS NOTES:  Pirates starter Brad Lincoln, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2006 draft,  made his major league debut.  He went six innings, allowing five earned runs on sevenhits and two walks, striking out three.  He also went 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Bucs' left fielder Jose Tabata also made his MLB debut, leading off and going 2-for-4 with a walk and run scored.

Washington LHP Scott Olsen has experienced a setback in his recovery from left shoulder tightness that landed him on the 15-day disabled list on May 22. Olsen will be shut down and then restart his rehabilitation program when his shoulder feels better.

Adam Dunn hit a two-run home run--his second in two days--off Lincoln in the first inning.

Bernadina went 3-for-4 with a run, RBI and stolen base.

Washington had 10 hits, walked four times, struck out three times and left six men on base.  They were 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position.