An 11 inning, 4-hour and 36-minute marathon finished in disappointment for the Washington Nationals on Friday night. With the team having hopes of clinching the National League East, Mark Melancon blew his first save in a Nats uniform and Pittsburgh Pirates call-up Jacob Stallings hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th for a 6-5 Pirates win from PNC Park.
Things looked good early for the clinch-seeking Nationals, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning at the same time that the New York Mets stumbled to a 2-0 deficit against Philadelphia. Had those results stood, the Nats would have been popping the champagne in the locker room to celebrate the third division title in team history.
But it wasn’t meant to be on this night. Carrying a 5-4 lead into the ninth inning, Melancon allowed a double to Sean Rodriguez into center field, allowing Pedro Florimon to tie the game up. It was the right-hander’s first blown save as a National, coming against his former team. And with the Mets storming back to take down the Phillies 10-5, celebrations would be put on hold another night.
Things looked good in the second inning for the Nats. Ryan Zimmerman started off the scoring with a line-drive double to center field to bring in Stephen Drew for an early lead. It got even better when Danny Espinosa hit his 23rd home run of the year, a 2-run blast over center field.
The Pirates did claw back, starting with the pitcher Jameson Taillon getting a single off of Gio Gonzalez, followed immediately by an Adam Frazier single to make it 3-2 after two innings.
The game became tied the very next inning, when a Jung Ho Kang groundout paved way to an Andrew McCutchen score.
The celebrations seemed to be back on after Wilson Ramos mashed his 22nd home run of the year into right-center and Jayson Werth drew a bases-loaded walk to allow the Nats to regain the lead at 5-3 in the sixth. Even with a Frazier sac fly in the bottom of the inning to make it 5-4, Washington cruised the next couple of innings to set up Melancon for the save.
That scenario failing to come to fruition led to Stallings hitting his two-out, bases loaded line drive to secure the Pirates victory.
With the loss and the Mets win, Washington’s magic number remains at two. Their next game is a rematch on Saturday night in PNC Park as they take on Pittsburgh at 7:05 p.m. The Mets stay in the confines of New York as they continue their series with Philadelphia. First pitch in that game will be 7:10 p.m.