Christan Guzman provided the spark that bailed Nats starter Matt Chico out of another bad start, hitting a single, double, and homer while driving in 6 runs to lead the Nationals to a 9-8 win over Pittsburgh, and a 2 out of three series win. Guzman was an eye popping 4 for 5 on the day lifting his batting average to .303 on the year.
Guzman homered in the first inning to put the Nationals up 2-0. He then singled in Felipe Lopez in the 4th inning, and doubled in the sixth inning to drive in 3 runs. Felipe Lopez kept up his hoit swing going 2 for 4 and scoring 3 runs while lifting his avergae to .283. Lopez now has at least 2 hits in 6 of his last 11 games.
Austin Kearns is heating up as well, he was 2 for 3. Wily Mo Pena added 2 hits. The Nationals battered Pittsburgh pitching for 9 runs on 14 hits.
But, the Nationals pitching didn't fare that well either getting pounded for 8 runs on 14 hits. Starter Matt Chico gave up 5 runs on 4.1 innings of work. Chico has now given up 20 runs in 17.1 innings in his last 4 games.
It's time for Manny Acta to do something. The starting pitching for Washington has started to come around, getting outstanding performances from John Lannan, Tim Redding, Odalis Perez, and Shawn Hill over the past two weeks, even though Lannan got nailed a bit yesterday. Yet Chico is not just getting poor starts, he is getting hammered game in and game out. Acta needs to make a move. The smart move right now would be to put Chico in the bullpen for long relief and elevate Mike O'Connor to the starting role for now. Give O'Connor the shot. Way I see it, your not going to get worse that what you are getting now.
The steady Luis Ayala got nicked up a bit for 2 runs in 1 inning of work. Jon Rauch was able to settle the game out, pitching a scoreless 9th inning for his 7th save of the year and preserving a Nats win.
Looking down below ...
Columbus (AAA) disposed of Lehigh Valley on Friday night 4-3 behind prospect Colin Balestar. Balestar pitched 5 innings gave up 2 runs and struck out 3 on the way to his second win of the season. Closer Brian Sanches pitched the 9th for his 7th save of the year and lowered his ERA to a team lead of 1.17. Offensively, Elijah Dukes, on rehab and closer to returning to the Nationals, was 3 for 4 with a double and 2 RBIs. Yurendell de Caster hit his first homer after being promoted from Harrisburg.
Clippers took out Lehigh Valley again with a 3-2 win tonight. Tyler Clippard pitched 6 shutout innings and struck out 6 to gain the win. After a rough start tot he season, Clippard has settled in nicely and lowered his ERA to 4.45 after posting a double digit ERA earlier. Elijah Dukes in his second rehab game was 1 for 4 with a triple and an RBI. C Javier Herrera was 2 for 4. Columbus even up their season record at 15-15.
Harrisburg (AA) blasted Reading 8-2 on Friday night. Shairon Martis tossed 6 strong innings giving up 2 runs and striking out 5. He is now 2-0 with an ERA of 2.78. Michael Daniel was 2 for 4 on the night. He is hitting .313. C Luke Montz hit homer number 7 already and drove in 3 runs. Montz is hitting .382. Montz now leads the Eastern League in hitting and runs batted in. Justin Maxwell and Ian Desmond each hit their 4th homers of the year. Reading got even tonight downing the Senators 6-3. Starter Josh Hall continues to struggle, taking the loss and dropping to 0-4 with an ERA of 8.02.
Potomac (A) won their fifth in a row beating Frederick 6-4 Friday night. Yunior Novoa [pitching 3 scoreless innings of relief and whiffing 4 to pick up his second win, he is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA coming out of the Nationals bullpen. Adam Carr picked up his second save. Leonard Davis is the hot bat for ths Nats gopign2 for 4 and hitting his 5th homer. Chris Marrero hit his third homer and drove in 3 runs. Frederick got even tonight blasting the Nationals 10-6. Terrence Engles got roughed up for 7 runs in 2 short innings. Offensively, guess who? Leonard Davis was 3 for 5 and is not hitting .326. Matt Rogelstad was 2 for 4 hitting his first homer of the year. Marrero picked up another two hit night and scored twice in the Nationals loss.
NOTES: Starting pitcher Corey Van Allen's 3-0 start with a 0.66 ERA earned him a quick promotion to Harrisburg (AA). Joining him will be Zechery Zincola, promoted as well after dominating out of the Potomac bullpen not allowing a single run in 12.1 innings of work. Congrats to both on a well deserved promotion.
Hagerstown (A) pounded West Virginia 12-3 Friday night. Jeff Mandel earned the win allowing 1 run over 6 innings. Francisco Plasencia was 2 for 5 with 2 runs. 2007 draft pick Bill Rhinehart was 2 for 2 with homer number 3 and raising his average to an impressive .350. He also scored 3 runs. Fellow 2007 pick Aaron Suess was 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, 2 runs, a home run, and 6 RBIs. Suess is on the verge of passing .300 raising his average to .297.
Hagerstown beat Greensboro 5-4 tonight completing a rain suspended game from April 27. Rhinehart and Suess again added two hits a piece. Rhinehart drove in two ruins. Another 2007 pick SS Jake Smolinski was 2 for 4 as well.