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Pittsburgh at Washington

W: L. Hernandez (5-3) L: Z. Duke (3-7)
S: T. Clippard (1)
HR: PIT - None   WAS - A. Dunn (13), J. Willingham (12), M. Morse (1)

Nationals 4, Pirates 2

CBSSports.com wire reports

WASHINGTON -- Call this the Stephen Strasburg sweep.

The 21-year-old rookie started it with a phenomenal debut, and his Washington Nationals teammates fed off the energy to become the last team in the majors to sweep a series this season, capping it off Thursday night with a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"This last homestand was pretty good with Stephen coming in," said Michael Morse, whose three hits included his first homer of the season. "It kind of gave us a little jump, and we're feeling good."

Adam Dunn homered for the third straight game, Josh Willingham also went deep, and Livan Hernandez (5-3) allowed two runs over six innings for his first win in more than a month despite a respectable string of starts.

And, lest it be lost in the Strasburg hype, it's worth noting that the Nationals bullpen pitched shutout ball the entire series, allowing nary a run over 10 1/3 innings. Even with regular closer Matt Capps getting the night off, Tyler Clippard was able to send the side down in order in the ninth Thursday for his first career save.

"It seems like every day a new guy out of our 'pen kind of steps up," Clippard said. "And I think that says a lot to the other teams around the league as far as what we can throw at teams."

After Strasburg's debut drew a sellout crowd of 40,315, the next two nights were tame events by comparison -- drawing 40,637 for both games combined. Still, all three count equally as wins for a Nationals team that has pulled within a game of .500.

Zach Duke (3-7) pitched better after two subpar outings but suffered again from a lack of run support for the Pirates, who have lost five straight.

Duke allowed three runs -- two earned -- over five innings and scored Pittsburgh's first run after leading off the sixth with a double.

"I thought we swung the bats OK. We just can't create runs. That's been our problem," manager John Russell said. "Until we start scoring more runs, every pitch means something. The pitcher's backs are against the wall too often. We need to start getting some offense going."

Dunn gave the Nationals the lead when he hit a curveball into the middle deck in right field in the fourth inning for his 13th home run of the season. Two batters later, Willingham got his 12th homer when he took Duke's full-count fastball to left-center to make the score 2-0.

The Nationals added an unearned run in the fifth. Dunn singled, was balked to second, then scored on third baseman Andy LaRoche's errant throw to first on a grounder by Ryan Zimmerman.

The Pirates got two in the sixth, an inning that began with back-to-back doubles by Duke and Jose Tabata. Speedy outfielder Tabata, who made his major league debut Wednesday, is 3 for 8 in his first two games.

The Nationals loaded the bases with none out in the sixth on a walk and two singles, but Evan Meek -- whose ERA sits at 0.76 -- got pinch-hitter Willie Harris to line into a double play and retired Cristian Guzman on a groundout.

Washington also wasted Ian Desmond's leadoff double in the seventh, stranding him at third, but Morse's homer gave the Nationals an insurance run in the eighth.

Morse is hitting .500 (9 for 18) since coming off the disabled list last month, but he's having to settle for limited playing time as the Nationals settle into a regular starting outfield.

"I could pretty much see the situation," Morse said. "That's my role on the team, and I'm happy with it and I'm going to do the best that I can."


Ryan Doumit returned for the Pirates after missing three games with concussion-like symptoms from taking a foul tip off his facemask, starting at first base for the first time since 2007. Manager John Russell said Doumit might resume catching duties on Sunday. ... The Nationals went 4-2 over six games at Nationals Park, their fourth straight winning homestand.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Players of the Game

M. Morse
AB 3
R 1
H 3
HR 1

L. Hernandez
IP 6.0
H 5
ER 2
BB 2
K 3

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Neil Walker, 2B4010001 .322
Andrew McCutchen, CF2011100 .302
Garrett Jones, RF3010101 .261
Ryan Doumit, 1B4000003 .275
Bobby Crosby, SS3000022 .232
   a- Delwyn Young, PH1000010 .239
Andy LaRoche, 3B3010000 .240
   b- Akinori Iwamura, PH1000000 .180
Jason Jaramillo, C4020011 .196
Zach Duke, P1110000 .100
    Evan Meek, P0000000 .000
   c- Lastings Milledge, PH1000001 .254
    Joel Hanrahan, P0000000 .000
    Brendan Donnelly, P0000000 .000
   d- Ryan Church, PH1000011 .198
a-struck out for Crosby in the 9th
b-flied out for LaRoche in the 9th
c-flied out for Meek in the 7th
d-struck out for Donnelly in the 9th
2B - Jose Tabata (1, Hernandez), Jason Jaramillo (2, Hernandez), Zach Duke (2, Hernandez)
SF - Andrew McCutchen (1)
SH - Zach Duke (6)
RBI - Jose Tabata (1), Andrew McCutchen (18)
SB - Andy LaRoche (1, 2nd base off Burnett/Rodriguez)
CS - Andrew McCutchen (5, 2nd base by Hernandez/Rodriguez)
Team LOB - 7
DP - Walker-Crosby
E - Andy LaRoche (10, Throwing)
Pittsburgh Pirates
Zach Duke (L,3-7) 5832332 5.30
Evan Meek 1000000 0.76
Joel Hanrahan 1100020 5.26
Brendan Donnelly 1111111 5.79
Pitches-Strikes - Zach Duke 97-59, Evan Meek 6-5, Joel Hanrahan 15-10, Brendan Donnelly 15-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Zach Duke 8-4, Evan Meek 1-1, Brendan Donnelly 1-1
Batters Faced - Zach Duke 26, Evan Meek 2, Joel Hanrahan 4, Brendan Donnelly 5
Washington Nationals
Cristian Guzman, 2B5000024 .301
Ian Desmond, SS4010000 .272
Adam Dunn, 1B4221001 .284
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B4010011 .315
Josh Willingham, LF4111022 .283
Ivan Rodriguez, C3010110 .331
Mike Morse, RF3131100 .417
    Tyler Clippard, P00000001.000
Roger Bernadina, CF-RF2010201 .273
Livan Hernandez, P1000003 .136
   a- Alberto Gonzalez, PH0000000 .298
   b- Willie Harris, PH1000000 .176
    Sean Burnett, P0000000 .000
   c- Nyjer Morgan, PH-CF1000001 .253
a-announced for Hernandez in the 6th
b-lined out for Gonzalez in the 6th
c-flied out for Burnett in the 8th
2B - Ian Desmond (11, Hanrahan)
HR - Adam Dunn (13, Duke), Josh Willingham (12, Duke), Mike Morse (1, Donnelly)
SH - Livan Hernandez (6)
RBI - Adam Dunn (33), Josh Willingham (39), Mike Morse (3)
2-OUT RBI - Josh Willingham (12)
Team LOB - 9
Washington Nationals
Livan Hernandez (W,5-3) 6522230 2.28
Sean Burnett (H,8) 2200010 3.15
Tyler Clippard (S,1) 1100020 1.54
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Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Livan Hernandez 5-9, Sean Burnett 1-4
Batters Faced - Livan Hernandez 24, Sean Burnett 8, Tyler Clippard 4
Game Information
Attendance - 21767
Game Time - 2:52
Temperature - 84
Umpires - Home - Lance Barksdale, First Base - Ed Rapuano, Second Base - Tom Hallion, Third Base - Ron Kulpa