McCutchen, McDonald lead Pirates over Nats 5-3

May 17, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — Andrew McCutchen won't get to face the Washington Nationals again this season. He's sorry about it. They're not.

McCutchen homered twice, James McDonald took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and struck out a career-high 11, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Nationals 5-3 on Thursday night.

In five games against Washington this season, McCutchen went 10 for 17. He is batting .442 with 10 home runs in 23 career games versus the Nationals.

"It's a good place to hit," McCutchen said. "I really can't pinpoint it. I'm just hitting what they throw to me."

According to Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, it doesn't matter how McCutchen is pitched.

"You pitch him away, and he hits it away," Zimmerman said. "He's one of those special players that can do everything. He's fun to watch. I just wish we didn't have to watch so much when we play them."

Nationals manager Davey Johnson had a frustrating night watching Jordan Zimmermann lose, his team flail at McDonald's pitches for the first five innings and McCutchen hit the two homers.

"We certainly haven't figured out how to pitch him," Johnson said. "He looks awful comfortable in there."

As a rookie in 2009, McCutchen hit three home runs in a game against the Nationals, and he nearly had three in this game. He had solo shots against Zimmermann (2-4) in the first and sixth and nearly had another homer in the third, but his long shot to left went foul by a few feet.

McCutchen also made a beautiful catch in center field, robbing Adam LaRoche of an extra-base hit in the fifth.

"That was an unbelievable catch," McDonald said. "That was for sure a double off the wall."

McDonald retired his first 13 batters — striking out nine — and also was helped by a spectacular play from Casey McGehee at first base. The right-hander walked Bryce Harper with one out in the fifth.

Carrying a 4-0 lead in the sixth, McDonald weakened and allowed consecutive doubles to Jesus Flores and Steve Lombardozzi to start the inning. Flores held at third because he wasn't sure Lombardozzi's ball was going to drop. Zimmerman's single drove in both runners, and LaRoche's triple scored Zimmerman.

"He went from no-no to oh no!" Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It was good stuff for five innings, though. Really electric."

McDonald (3-2) was pulled after 5 2-3 innings. He gave up three runs and four hits with one walk.

Tony Watson retired the final batter of the sixth. Juan Cruz pitched a scoreless seventh, Jason Grilli worked the eighth and Joel Hanrahan the ninth for his eighth save in nine chances.

Zimmermann gave up a season-high four runs and seven hits in six innings, walking one and striking out six.

"That's the worst I've seen him with his command early in a ballgame," Johnson said. "His location was off. He was all over the place."

Zimmermann, who received two runs or fewer in six of his seven previous starts, was backed by better offensive support than he usually gets — three runs.

"We had runners on. We just couldn't get a big hit," Johnson said.

Washington left six runners on in the final four innings and had runners on first and second with one out in the ninth, but Pittsburgh third baseman Pedro Alvarez made a nice catch on Lombardozzi's foul ball near the third base stands.

Rod Barajas added a two-run homer in the fourth, his third. He had three hits.

Neil Walker drove in the fifth run for Pittsburgh in the seventh on an infield out.

NOTES: Nationals OF Michael Morse, who hasn't played this season because of an injured back muscle, will probably report to Viera, Fla., early next week to begin playing in games, Johnson said. He had hoped Morse would return to be the designated hitter when the Nationals play in Boston on June 8, but Morse told Johnson he could play a week earlier. ... Washington INF Mark DeRosa is probably a week from returning from a left oblique strain, Johnson said. ... The Nationals play a three-game series against the Orioles beginning Friday. Washington RHP Edwin Jackson pitches against RHP Jake Arrieta. ... The Pirates open a three-game series in Detroit on Friday. Pittsburgh will send RHP Charlie Morton to the mound against Justin Verlander.

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