Washington, DC – Adam LaRoche collected his 1,000th career hit with a three-run double in the seventh and added a solo home run, as the Washington Nationals took down the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-4, in the opener of a two-game set at Nationals Park.
Ian Desmond and Xavier Nady each hit solo home runs and Bryce Harper crushed his first career triple and scored twice for the Nationals, who bounced back from a 6-1 loss to the San Diego Padres on Tuesday.
"Deep down as a competitor, I wanted to come back and prove to myself that I can come back from this surgery and do what I'm capable of doing," remarked LaRoche, who played only 43 games in 2011 due to a torn labrum in his left shoulder. "So to come out and do it is nice reassurance."
Gio Gonzalez (5-1) allowed three runs on four hits and a pair of walks while striking out 10 over seven full frames. Tyler Clippard allowed a run in the eighth, but Henry Rodriguez worked around an error in the ninth to pick up his ninth save of the season.
Josh Harrison hit a two-run home run and added an RBI single for the Pirates, who have lost two straight since a three-game winning streak.
Erik Bedard (2-5) gave up four runs on six hits and a walk while fanning seven over six innings to take the loss.
Washington jumped on top in its first at-bat when Harper crushed a one-out triple off the top of the wall in right field and easily trotted home on a groundout by Ryan Zimmerman.
The Nats added a run in the third when Desmond led off the inning by ripping a hanging curveball from Bedard and launching it into the left field seats to make it 2-0.
Pittsburgh got a run back in the fifth. Yamaico Navarro led off with a walk and Rod Barajas singled to put runners on the corners. After Clint Barmes fanned, Harrison came through with a base hit into center to score Navarro.
But Washington got back-to-back solo homers from LaRoche and Nady in the sixth to take a 4-1 lead.
Barajas drew a one-out walk in the Pittsburgh seventh and after Barmes popped out, Harrison launched a fastball from Gonzalez into the left field seats to bring the Pirates within one.
Jesus Flores was plunked by Pittsburgh reliever Evan Meek to begin the seventh, and he moved to second on a sac-bunt by pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina. After Desmond whiffed, Harper and Zimmerman walked to load the bases. LaRoche then cleared the bases with a double, a line shot into the right field corner, to make it 7-3.
"I've seen him (LaRoche) for a long time, he's always been a low ball hitter," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's hit some balls hard against us, so you tip your hat and you move on. If there's a base open tomorrow and we see him, maybe that's where we'll send him."
In the eighth, Jose Tabata led off the frame with a base hit to left and got to third on a single by Andrew McCutchen before waltzing home on a sac-fly by Casey McGehee to account for the final margin.
Prior to Wednesday's game, the Pirates recalled Meek from Triple-A Indianapolis and optioned outfielder Alex Presley to the farm club...Pittsburgh fell to 17-8 when they score two-or-more runs in a game this season and 7-13 when allowing the first run of the game...The Pirates went 2- for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded four, while the Nats were 1-for-5 with men in scoring position and left four on base.