PITTSBURGH (AP) — After having little success in his first three times up, Starling Marte came up in the eighth inning with two men on base and the score tied. This time, Stephen Strasburg wasn’t on the mound and Marte took advantage.
Marte hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer off reliever Daniel Hudson and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Washington Nationals 4-1 Tuesday night.
“I’ve been doing a good job,” Marte said. “Everybody pushed me to continue to do what I do. But the season’s not over. … I have to push myself the best I can every night and try to get the support for the other guys.”
After watching Pittsburgh struggle against Strasburg through seven innings, Nationals manager Dave Martinez turned to Wander Suero (3-7) to face the left-handed bats coming up in the eighth. Adam Frazier bunted a single past the mound to load the bases with nobody out before Bryan Reynolds tied it 1-1 with a sacrifice fly.
Marte then drove a fastball from Hudson 397 feet to right-center for his 22nd homer of the season.
Despite leaving after throwing just 94 pitches, Strasburg didn’t question Martinez’ decision.
“(Martinez) thought it was enough,” Strasburg said. “I think we win as a team and we lose as a team. Just didn’t work out for us tonight.”
Suero, who gave up two hits and one walk, was responsible for three of Pittsburgh’s four eighth-inning runs.
“My plan was just to get the three outs that I needed to get out of the inning,” Suero said. “Unfortunately, things didn’t go the way I wanted to.”
Pirates closer Felipe Vázquez (3-1) went 1 1/3 inning, allowing one hit with one strikeout.
Pittsburgh, which is 8-28 since the All-Star break, had scored one total run in its previous three games.
“The vibe doesn’t match the record,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “The effort and the energy don’t match the record. We know that. You don’t win games on vibe and you don’t win games on effort. You win games with results.”
The Nationals are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Cubs for the NL’s first wild card, and entered having won seven of their previous eight games. They had scored at least 13 runs in each of their previous three games, totaling a franchise-record 43 runs during that stretch.
“It’s just weird, baseball,” Martinez said. “Today, we just couldn’t get any runs but one. But Strasburg was good.”
Strasburg allowed four hits and had six strikeouts in seven innings, and left the game on track for what would have been his career-high 16th win. He has 15 wins in four of his first 10 major league seasons.
Pirates reliever Clay Holmes hit Adam Eaton with a pitch before being replaced by Michael Feliz in the fifth. Anthony Rendon drove a double to the gap in right-center field off Feliz, scoring Eaton for a 1-0 Nationals lead.
Holmes gave up one run on one hit in 3 2/3 innings after relieving Pirates starter Chris Archer to start the second inning. Archer left with right shoulder discomfort after allowing two hits before stranding runners on second and third with back-to-back strikeouts to end the first.
Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman continued his rehab assignment with the Potomac Nationals on Tuesday. He began the assignment by playing two games for Double-A Harrisburg after being placed on the 10-day injured list with plantar fasciitis in his right foot July 22.
Pirates: RHP Richard Rodriguez (right shoulder inflammation) was reinstated from the 10-day injured list. … RHP Montana DuRapau was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. … INF/OF José Osuna was reinstated from the MLB Suspended List after serving his five-game ban for his role in a July 30 benches-clearing brawl with the Reds. … RHP Kyle Crick was placed on the suspended list (three games) for his role in that same July 30 incident.
Nationals: LHP Patrick Corbin (9-5, 3.34) has given up three runs or fewer in 10 of his past 11 starts. He allowed one run on seven hits in six innings of a 2-1 win over Milwaukee his last time out on Aug. 16.
Pirates: RHP Joe Musgrove (8-11, 4.59) will try for his first win in August. He is 0-2 in three starts this month since last winning July 30, when he surrendered two runs in six innings against Cincinnati.