National League Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, August 15 (All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Pirates (64-57) at Washington Nationals (66-53), 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - Charlie Morton (5-11, 3.62) Washington - Tanner Roark (11-7, 2.86)
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Nationals are back in the nation's capital and look to stay on track when they open a three-game series Friday versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The National League East-leading Nationals are coming off a three-game sweep of the New York Mets at Citi Field and have a six-game lead on the Atlanta Braves in the division. The Nationals posted a 4-1 win over the Mets on Thursday behind a rare road win from Stephen Strasburg, who struck out eight and allowed one unearned run on three hits and two walks in seven innings.
"Tonight he had really good fastball command," Nationals manager Matt Williams said of Strasburg. "He pitched well."
Adam LaRoche hit a two-run home run in the first inning and Bryce Harper belted a two-run shot in the fourth, as the Nationals won for the eighth time in the last 12 games. Ian Desmond went 2-for-3 with a run scored for Washington, which won its 11th straight game at Citi Field.
The Nationals' previous club record for consecutive road wins over a team was 10, set by the Montreal Expos over the Chicago Cubs from 1982-83.
Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth received a cortisone shot in his balky right shoulder this week and said he feels better. Werth could see action in this upcoming series with the Pirates and is batting .279 with 12 homers and 63 runs batted in. He hasn't played since Sunday's loss at Atlanta.
"He said today he feels a lot better," Williams said. "He said he is about 50 percent better, so that is a good sign. It means the anti-inflammatory medication is working. We'll see what he looks like (Friday). Potentially, we could give him some work, let him start swinging."
The Nats will also host Arizona and San Francisco on this 10-game homestand.
Tanner Roark gets the start for Washington Friday and is 11-7 with a 2.86 earned run average. He is 0-1 in his last two starts after winning four straight and did not factor in the outcome of a 4-1 win over the Braves on Saturday, tossing seven innings of one-run ball.
Roark has never faced the Pirates and the right-hander is 5-5 with a 2.40 earned run average in 11 home starts.
Pittsburgh split a four-game home-and-home series with the Detroit Tigers and lost both matchups at Comerica Park.
In Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Tigers, Max Scherzer held the Buccos in check by tossing eight shutout innings and striking out 14 with two walks. Francisco Liriano was dealt the loss for giving up two runs and three hits in six innings of work.
"I got a lot of swings and misses," Liriano said. "I wasn't trying to do too much, just locate pitches. I was using all my pitches well."
Gaby Sanchez hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning for the Pirates, who have lost four of their last six games and sit two games behind Milwaukee for the NL Central lead.
Pirates infielder Jordy Mercer left Thursday's game against the Tigers in the seventh inning with right forearm tightness and could miss Friday's game.
Charlie Morton draws the start for Pittsburgh and is a lowly 5-11 with a 3.62 earned run average. Morton is 1-4 in his last 10 starts and previously took the mound in Sunday's 8-2 loss to San Diego, charged with five runs and five hits in five innings.
The right-handed Morton is 2-7 with a 4.52 ERA in 13 road starts and 2-2 in five career meetings -- all starts -- with the Nationals.
Pittsburgh won three of four games versus the Nationals at PNC Park from May 22-25 and has won six of the last eight games in this series.
08/15 10:38:16 ET