Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 10/31/14
Jordy Mercer, Josh Harrison and Gaby Sanchez collected three each hits in a losing effort. (Photo Credit: David Hague) Thursday’s sweep attempt of the Washington Nationals was one of the wildest games of the season. The Nationals (49-53) walked off winners 9-7 on Bryce Harper’s two-run homer, but that was a mere punctuation on the craziness before. From Mike Winters’ erratic strike zone to the Pirates’ (60-40) three-error blunder-splosion, to the ejections of both managers, to Josh Harrison’s big home run, to the Bucs’ four-run 9th inning tying the game, the pendulum swung rapidly before knocking over Pittsburgh’s domino. Truly, the result could have gone either way, but several miscues gave the W to Washington. A Comedy of Errors The Pirates’ defense, such consistent vacuums of the baseball over the first 99 games, frittered away four runs their first inning out in the field. Bryce Harper led off with a hit by pitch, then Steve Lombardozzi reached on a bunt single. Harper got caught between 2nd base and 3rd, but Clint Barmes’ throw plopped off Pedro Alvarez’s glove and into the grass for the first Nationals’ run. Starter A.J. Burnett was no innocent bystander, though. He gave up an RBI single to next batter Ryan Zimmerman, making it 2-0. Though he retired the next two batters, he then allowed two more singles. Gaby Sanchez’s throwing error and Jordy Mercer’s muffed routine ground ball kept the inning going, but Burnett escaped by getting opposite starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez to ground out. Getting ‘em Back A.J. Burnett settled in nicely following a dreadful 1st inning. (Photo Credit: David Hague) Give Burnett and the defense credit: they were just fine for the rest of his start. Over Burnett’s last six innings, he allowed five more hits, no more runs, one walk and five strikeouts. He pitched efficiently, ending on a sparkling 14 groundouts to 3 flyouts. His quality start offered the Pirates’ offense plenty of time to bite into the early four-run deficit, a difficult task against sub-3.00-ERA Gio Gonzalez. The Bucs collected their hits though. The first run was scored by Gaby Sanchez in the 4th, who hit a leadoff single and came around to score on Burnett’s groundout. In the 6th, Sanchez again singled off Gonzalez, then Josh Harrison crushed a fastball to center field for his season’s first home run. Suddenly, the Pirates trailed by just one run. Vin Drops It Trouble arrived once Burnett exited. Vin Mazzaro walked Roger Bernadina with one out, then gave up a single to Harper to put runners on the corners. Lombardozzi smacked a ground-rule double to left for a two-run Washington lead. Mazzaro struck out Zimmerman for the second out. Then Adam LaRoche roped a liner to right field. Travis Snider made the correct decision to go all out for the catch and the potential third out, but just missed the grab and LaRoche trotted to 3rd base for a 2-RBI triple. The four-run Nationals lead looked too large to overcome. Comeback… Then Denied Not so fast as closer Rafael Soriano wanted to help. The erratic-throwing reliever walked first two batters Neil Walker and Starling Marte. It was go-time, even though the Pirates entered the 9th inning 0-for-12. Jordy Mercer doubled to center field. First run. Andrew McCutchen struck out on all out-of-zone pitches, but Russell Martin hit a ground-ball single to left. Second run. Left-hander Ian Krol entered to face potential go-ahead run Alvarez, but he walked the slugger. Jose Tabata struck out and gave Josh Harrison the hero’s chance. Harrison delivered, pounding a single up the middle. Third run. Fourth run. Tie game. Garrett Jones struck out to miss the chance for more, but the Pirates appeared to be in the right spot facing the bottom of the Nationals lineup in the Bottom 9th. Reliever Bryan Morris gave up a one-out single but drew a ground ball for the second out. But as interim manager Jeff Bannister had only three pitchers left and the potential for extra innings, Morris stayed in to face Harper. The 20-year-old phenom destroyed Morris’ slider for his third hit and the game-winner. The Nationals’ playoff chances remain decidedly down for the count, but Pittsburgh could not deliver the knockout blow. The Pirates’ bullpen has been due to regress and give up more run since half past always; a missed Snider catch and HarperBomb are two quick ways for such regression to form.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Aaron Rodgers buys TVs for Packers teammates

Harbaugh smiled when asked about Michigan's bday tweet

Jackie Robinson West Little League accused of cheating

Police: Fire that burned down McClain's home 'suspicious'

Furniture store will refund purchases if OSU wins title

What each NFC team in the hunt should ask for from Santa

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Is SI ashamed to mention Jameis Winston on its cover?

Kobe Bryant disappointed Lakers didn't get Rajon Rondo

Niners OT Anthony Davis takes shot at offensive coordinator

Report: Josh Smith expected to sign with Rockets

Cullen Jenkins unhappy over his roughing the passer fine

Bochy: Peavy trade was best in-season move of 2014

WATCH: Blazers announcer botches Damian Lillard call

WATCH: P.K. Subban disguises himself, surprises kids for Xmas

Baseball cards: a fan's love for the ultimate stocking stuffer

Packers game is a career defining moment for Stafford

A look inside Jason Grilli's contract with the Braves

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

WATCH: Bahamas Bowl ends on insane Hail Mary play

Mike Yeo slams Wild for not having 'winner's attitude'

Michigan St. QB, Ohio State TE have awkward Twitter exchange

Will FIFA ever care to change?

Top storyline for each NFL Week 17 game

The 40 greatest Christmas-related names in sports

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

WATCH: Announcer botches call

Police: McClain fire 'suspicious'

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

Bahamas Bowl ends on crazy Hail Mary

49ers OT Davis takes shot at coordinator

Will FIFA ever care to change?

Top storyline for each Week 17 game

40 great Christmas-related sports names

Nick Mangold and dealing with feelings as a sports fan

Ibaka, Aldridge ejected for scuffle

Baseball cards: a fan's love for the ultimate stocking stuffer

Nick Young on Kobe-less win: He needs to pass

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.