Nationals aim to keep struggling Pirates on the ropes

MLB

Kyle Schwarber shrugged off his move to the top of the Washington Nationals batting order last week, but that — or something — continues to work for him.

The left fielder hit a tiebreaking homer and an RBI single Monday in Washington’s series-opening 3-2 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates, giving him four homers in the four games he has played as a leadoff hitter since June 8.

“Being in the leadoff spot, it’s like, whatever,” Schwarber said. “Take that leadoff name out of it. You’re batting in the first spot and the next time you come around, you might be batting third. It’s not like I haven’t led off an inning before.”

Still, it would be surprising if he was anywhere other than the top of the order Tuesday when the Nationals go for their third straight win overall against a Pittsburgh club that has lost eight in a row.

Pirates first baseman Colin Moran, who left the Sunday game because of tightness in his lower back, was not in the lineup Monday. Manager Derek Shelton said Moran was improving and probably would avoid the injured list.

Moran is considered day-to-day, so he could start or be available off the bench the balance of the series.

On Tuesday, each team is scheduled to start a left-hander, Tyler Anderson (3-6, 4.52 ERA) for Pittsburgh and Patrick Corbin (3-5, 6.21) for Washington.

After allowing 15 earned runs in his first two starts, Corbin is 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA in his past 10 outings.

Corbin did not get a decision Wednesday at Tampa Bay when he pitched five innings and gave up three runs and three hits with four walks and three strikeouts.

Corbin got 10 ground-ball outs that game, but that’s a change from previous seasons when his slider elicited more whiffs.

“Yeah, maybe it’s not as good as it has been,” Corbin said of his slider, adding that “obviously I’d like to strike out more guys.”

“Not really sure why that is or what’s different, but just going to continue to work on it and I think at times my slider has been pretty good and maybe at some times not as sharp, but not quite sure why.”

His manager, Dave Martinez, isn’t complaining.

“When he’s throwing balls like that and he’s getting a lot of ground balls, I think his slider is playing really well,” Martinez said.

Corbin is 2-2 with a 3.53 ERA in eight career starts against Pittsburgh.

Anderson has lost four of his past five decisions, including a tough-luck game Wednesday, when he gave up two runs and six hits in six innings during a 2-1 loss against the Dodgers.

Anderson hasn’t been blessed with abundant run support.

“You try not to pay attention to the score too much,” he said. “Your job is to go out there and take every inning one at a time or pitch one at a time and just try to get outs. … You’re not so worried about how many runs we’re scoring or they’re scoring. Your job is just to try to put up as many zeros as you can, regardless of whether we score one, two, zero or 10.”

Anderson, who has not faced Washington since 2019, is 1-0 with a 4.29 ERA in four career games against the Nationals. His team has won all four of his outings vs. Washington.

–Field Level Media

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