After the Nationals coughed up a 7-3 lead in the top of the ninth Thursday against the Pirates, Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning, giving Washington a 9-7 win.
Harper’s homer came off Bryan Morris with two outs in the ninth. He had gone 12 straight games without an RBI before delivering his shot just over the wall in left center. It was his first homer since July 1 and 14th of the season.
The Nationals needed Harper to play the hero because Rafael Soriano and Ian Krol combined to give up four runs in the top of the ninth. Soriano walked the first two batters he faced and gave up two hits while retiring just one batter afterwards. He was pulled from a 7-5 game with left-hander Pedro Alvarez coming up. Krol ended up walking Alvarez (when being able to throw just one breaking ball in the vicinity of the plate probably would have gotten him a strikeout) and giving up a two-run single to Josh Harrison.
The contest ended with neither manager in his respective dugout. Davey Johnson was tossed in the fifth, and Clint Hurdle was ejected two innings later. The sloppy game featured three Pirates errors in the Nationals’ four-run first inning.
Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the Reds had to be particularly frustrating for Giants fans, considering that…
– Hunter Pence went 5-for-5 and the team as a whole collected 15 hits
– The team left 15 men on base, it’s high total in a nine-inning game since 2008
– Chad Gaudin, the club’s best starter of late, was roughed up for six runs in 3 2/3 innings
Reds starter Mike Leake pitched six innings of one-run ball despite surrendering 12 hits. Every last knock was a single. The Giants’ only extra-base hit came when Pablo Sandoval delivered a two-run double off Logan Ondrusek in the eighth.
Leake became the first pitcher since the Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco in 2011 to allow 12 hits and give up just one run. The last Red to do it was Tom Hume in 1978. The last time a starter did it to the Giants was the Pirates’ Bob Moose in 1972.
At least dating back to 1916 — which is as far as Baseball-reference’s wonderful play index goes — no one had ever had an outing as short as Leake’s and still managed to give up 12 hits and just one run. The next shortest was 6 2/3 innings. Which makes sense: it’s awfully, awfully hard to cram 12 hits into six innings and get just one run.
Pence’s 5-for-5 game was also pretty unusual. It was the first 5-for-5 game to feature no extra-base hits or runs scored since Detroit’s Roger Cedeno pulled it off on Aug. 15, 2001. It was also the first time a player went 5-for-5 for a team that lost by five or more runs since Adam Kennedy did so for Oakland in an 8-1 loss to the White Sox on Aug. 15, 2009.
MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports that Will Middlebrooks’ name has come up in trade talks between the White Sox and Red Sox regarding Jake Peavy.
The Red Sox, on the hunt for a starting pitcher with Clay Buchholz out, scouted Peavy’s last start against the Braves and will take another look at him Thursday, when he matches up against the Tigers and Justin Verlander.
A deal sending Middlebrooks to Chicago would be ironic, since it was Middlebrooks’ emergence that played in a role in the Red Sox practically giving away Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox last summer. If the Red Sox were to part with Middlebrooks now, they’d seemingly be setting themselves up to go forward with a Xander Bogaerts-Jose Iglesias left side of the infield in future years, though Bogaerts probably won’t be up for the start of 2014.
Peavy would be a risky acquisition for Boston. He’s made 30 starts just once since 2007, and he’ll fall short again this year after missing time in the first half with a fractured rib. When healthy, he’s gone 7-4 with a 4.19 ERA and a 69/15 K/BB ratio in 73 innings for the White Sox. And while it’s so long ago that it probably doesn’t matter now, Peavy was a disaster in his only two postseason starts, going 0-2 with a 12.10 ERA for the Padres in consecutive NLDSs with the Padres in 2005 and ’06.
As for his contract situation, Peavy is making $14.5 million both this year and next. He also has a $15 million player option for 2015, but that only kicks in if he throws 400 innings these two years and that probably isn’t happening.
12:02 a.m. EDT update: WEEI’s Alex Speier is already refuting this one. His source says there’s been no mention of Middlebrooks in trade talks.