Zimmermann aims for a win on his birthday in Pittsburgh

( - Jordan Zimmermann looks to celebrate his 28th birthday with a second straight victory on Friday evening as the Washington Nationals play the second of four straight against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Nationals have won each of Zimmermann's past four starts, with the right- hander notching a pair of winning decisions in that span. That includes a 6-3 victory over the New York Mets on Sunday as he was charged with three runs on eight hits and two walks in six innings of work.

Zimmermann is 3-1 with a 3.70 earned run average this season and is set to face the Pirates for the second time in his career. The first encounter came back on May 17, 2012, with Zimmermann taking a loss for giving up four runs over six innings. He yielded a trio of homers in that outing, including two to Andrew McCutchen.

While Zimmermann will try to make his birthday a victorious one, Charlie Morton takes the hill for the Pirates looking to secure his first successful decision since Sept. 2. He went 0-1 over his final five starts of 2013 and has opened this campaign 0-6 in nine starts despite a 3.45 ERA, including a 2.53 ERA in five home games.

The right-handed Morton has pitched at least six innings eight times and has received two runs of support or fewer while in the game in seven of his nine outings.

Morton has lost each of his last two starts, falling to the New York Yankees last Sunday. He yielded four runs over seven innings with six strikeouts.

Morton, 30, is 1-2 lifetime against the Nats with a 4.09 ERA in four meetings.

The Pirates took last night's opener 3-1 behind six solid innings from Edinson Volquez, who yielded just three hits and two walks while fanning four. One of the hits he allowed was a solo homer to Ian Desmond in the fourth inning that tied the game, but McCutchen drove in a run in the fifth frame to put the Pirates back ahead.

"I thought he pitched a really professional game," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "He gave up a solo home run and just kept pitching. ... It was just a really good effort."

McCutchen was also credited with an RBI when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the third inning, while Josh Harrison added two hits and an RBI in Pittsburgh's third victory in four games.

Making his second career start, Blake Treinen was solid for the Nationals in replacing the injured Gio Gonzalez despite taking the loss. He gave up two runs on four hits and five walks over 5 2/3 frames.

"It's nice to see him go out there and compete," said Nationals manager Matt Williams. "He gave us a chance, we just didn't have enough offense to get it done."

Washington was held to just five hits and lost for the fourth time in six games.

The Pirates won four of seven over the Nationals last season.