Washington 6, Pittsburgh 1
When: 7:05 PM ET, Friday, September 29, 2017
Where: Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia
Paul Nauert, 1B -
Carlos Torres, 2B -
Chris Guccione, 3B -
WASHINGTON -- Local broadcasters were giving Ryan Zimmerman a hard time Friday night, reminding him that he turned 33 years old on Thursday.
"It stinks," said Zimmerman, in a joking mood.
What certainly didn't stink was his latest performance, as Zimmerman went 4-for-4 with two doubles and two homers as the Washington Nationals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1.
Zimmerman had a career-high four extra-base hits and it was the 23rd time in his career and seventh this season that he had at least two homers in one game. The University of Virginia product has 36 homers this year and 251 in his career, all with the Nationals.
"I just moved my hands up a little bit," Zimmerman said of a slight adjustment against Pirates starter Gerrit Cole. "I thought we did a pretty good job of driving up his pitch count."
Stephen Strasburg allowed just two hits and no runs in 7 2/3 innings and there is speculation that he could get the start in Game one of the playoffs over teammate Max Scherzer.
"It is not a problem. We know what we have to do," Washington manager Dusty Baker, being coy with his playoff rotation.
Strasburg has allowed three earned runs in his 47 2/3 innings and he tied his career high with 15 wins in a year.
"He has been doing it awhile. He has the ability to execute four very good major league pitches," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
Zimmerman had doubles in his first two at-bats, then hit a two-run homer off A.J. Schugel in the sixth to give the Nationals a 4-0 lead. He then had a solo homer in the eighth off Dan Runzler to make it 5-0.
He hit a combined 36 homers over his previous three injury-plagued seasons. Jayson Werth followed with his 10th homer of the year to give the Nationals a 6-0 lead.
The National League East champion Nationals (97-63) can set a franchise record for wins with victories in the final two games of the season. The Pirates (73-87) have lost 10 of 15.
Strasburg (15-4), in his last tuneup for a playoff appearance against the Chicago Cubs, had eight strikeouts and two walks while throwing 98 pitches. He threw just three pitches in the sixth inning.
The loser was Pirates starter Gerrit Cole (12-12), who made his career-high 33rd start and yielded three runs on eight hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
"I love the competition out there," Hurdle said of Cole. "That is a big step forward (this year). It's a mark of a pro."
Cole gave up an RBI single to Daniel Murphy in the sixth as the Nationals took a 2-0 lead. That brought on reliever Schugel, who gave up the first homer to Zimmerman.
Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh had an RBI double in the ninth off Matt Grace to trim the lead to 6-1. Starling Marte had two hits for the Pirates.
Murphy, Werth, Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner each had two hits for the Nationals. Oliver Perez got the last out of the eighth for Washington.
Strasburg was in complete control early on as he retired the first 14 batters he faced. He struck out the side in the third inning and then got McCutchen to miss a 96-mph fastball up in the zone for a strikeout to end the fourth.
Gregory Polanco broke up the no-hit bid with two outs in the fifth when he hit a hard shot that glanced off the glove of first baseman Zimmerman and caromed into short center field.
The Nationals had four hits in the first but only scored one run. Turner led off with an infield single but then Bryce Harper lined into a double play.
Rendon and Murphy followed with singles and then Zimmerman had an RBI double to score Rendon and make it 1-0. Murphy was thrown out at the plate on the double to keep the score at 1-0.
"It is nice to see Strasburg get 200 strikeouts," Baker said as the San Diego native now has 204 this year.
NOTES: Washington RHP Max Scherzer (16-6, 2.55 ERA) will face Pirates RHP Jameson Taillon (8-7, 4.62) on Saturday. ... Nationals LHP Oliver Perez played for the Pirates from 2003-06. ... Washington RF Bryce Harper, 1B Ryan Zimmerman, C Matt Wieters and LF Jayson Werth all returned to the starting lineup Friday after not starting Thursday. Harper has played in three of four games after coming off the disabled list Tuesday. RF Andrew Stevenson took over for Harper in the top of the eighth. ... Pirates SS Jordy Mercer (left knee) did not start for the fifth game in a row.
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