(Sports Network) - The Washington Nationals were able to breathe a sigh of
relief with outfielder Bryce Harper and hope third baseman Ryan Zimmerman can
make a healthy return Friday in the opener of a three-game road series against
the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
Harper left Wednesday's win over the Atlanta Braves after aggravating a
shoulder bruise on a check swing, but X-rays were negative and the young star
was back in the lineup the following night. Harper, though, went 0-for-4 in
the 3-1 victory for the Nationals, who split the four-game series.
Denard Span went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI and a run scored, while
Anthony Rendon collected a pair of hits for Washington.
Nats starter Dan Haren pitched eight innings of one-run ball for the win and
allowed just four hits and a walk. Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth to
notch his ninth save.
"(Haren's) a consummate pitcher," said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. "He
doesn't give in to a hitter. He's got all kinds of movement on the ball, and
this is a very aggressive swinging ballclub."
Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth left the game because of a hamstring issue
and finished 0-for-2 with a strikeout. Roger Bernadina took over for Werth in
the outfield. Werth had missed the previous two games of the Atlanta series
because of ankle and hamstring issues and is day-to-day.
Hoping to give Washington's lineup a boost is Zimmerman. He's expected to be
activated off the disabled list in time for Friday's game and has been shelved
since April 21 with a strained left hamstring. Zimmerman got some work in down
in the minor leagues.
Ross Detwiler will take the mound for the Nationals Friday and is 1-2 with a
2.03 earned run average in five starts. He has dropped consecutive starts and
gave up four runs -- three earned -- and a season high 11 hits over five
innings of a 5-2 loss against Cincinnati on Sunday. In two career starts
against the Pirates, Detwiler is 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA.
Pittsburgh is back home for five games versus Washington and Seattle and just
went 6-4 on a lengthy 10-game road trip.
The Pirates salvaged the finale of a three-game series in Milwaukee with
Wednesday's 6-4 win behind a trio of homers from Starling Marte, Pedro Alvarez
and Michael McKenry. Marte's two-run homer in the decisive four-run eighth
inning propelled Pittsburgh to victory, its ninth in 13 tries.
"A lot of teams, down two, three runs, roll over and die. This team has not
done that once," Pirates veteran Brandon Inge said. "It's a good thing. It
means you're not panicking."
Jeanmar Gomez got the start for the Pirates and did not figure into the
decision, permitting three runs -- two earned -- in four innings. Bryan Morris
earned the win in relief and Jason Grilli pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up
his 11th save of the season. Grilli is tied with two other players for the
major league lead in saves (Mariano Rivera, Sergio Romo).
Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata left Wednesday's win with an undisclosed injury
to his left leg and could miss Friday's game. Tabata went 2-for-4.
"He jammed his left leg going into the base," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle
said of Tabata. "He'll see the doctors back in Pittsburgh and be evaluated on
Pittsburgh, which is 8-4 at home, will send A.J. Burnett to the bump against
the Nationals and he is unbeaten in his last four starts (2-0). Burnett lost
his first two starts of the season, but has bounced back to even his record at
2-2 in six outings with a 2.83 ERA. The right-hander last took the mound in
Saturday's 5-3 win at St. Louis and gave up two runs in six innings.
Burnett has yielded just four runs in his past three starts, spanning 18
innings, and is 7-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 15 career matchups (14 starts) with
The Pirates won three of five contests against the Nationals last season.
The Sports Network