Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 5/4/13
The moments that turned out to be the vital ones for the Pirates in Friday’s 3-1 win against the Washington Nationals pretty much summed up Pittsburgh’s season in a nutshell. Mark Melancon got Bryce Harper to strike out swining to end the eighth inning on Friday. Photo by: David Hague With Neil Walker officially being placed on the disabled list, the team had to call Jordy Mercer up from Indianapolis on Friday afternoon just a few hours before the game. In the first month of the season seemingly whenever something would go wrong for the team — be it a loss or a cold streak — the end result could be viewed as a positive. With the game tied 1-1 in the fifth inning, Mercer, who was hitting second for the Pirates on Friday, smacked a 2-0 pitch just over the left field wall and beyond the reach of Bryce Harper for a two-run home run the proved to be the winning margin. “I hit him second because he’s been hot,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “One of the things I’m a big fan of when we get these guys up in Indianapolis if they’ve been playing and they’ve been playing well is to get them in as quick as we can.” Mercer said after he ran the count to 2-0 he told himself to be ready for a pitch to hit. “(Washington starting pitcher Ross Detwiler) was pounding fastballs and had good velocity,” Mercer said. “Told myself I was going to get ready for that 2-0 pitch and see what happens and I was successful. I got myself in a good count and let it fly. Whatever happens happens after that.” Then when the Nationals had their best opportunity to score, just like has been the case all season when the Pirates have a lead, the bullpen put a stop to the offensive threat. Mark Melancon did the Mark Melancon thing where he pitches the eighth inning and gets the ball to Jason Grilli with a lead for the ninth. Friday was somewhat odd in that Melancon allowed multiple baserunner, but when he found himself in a two-out, runners on the corners situation with Harper at the plate he found a way to escape. Harper struck out swinging and with it ended the last real threat by Washington. “Melancon is going after everybody this year,” Hurdle said. “Sometimes the hitters are going to get you when you’re going at them with your best stuff. The kid’s done a very good job, Harper, hitting right handed pitching. That was a very good match-up  That’s one of the prime time match-ups you look for when you come out to a ballgame. Our guy pitched through the error and a two-strike base hit that was dumped into right field. He continues to show up and be very, very effective.” And of course A.J. Burnett had one of his best starts of the season (and there have been a few) in striking out nine Nationals in seven innings while allowing just the one run. Burnett, who was the National League leader in strikeouts for the month of April, had not been pitching as deep into games as he would like in large part due to the high pitch counts associated with throwing a lot of strikeouts. On Friday he matched his season high with the seven innings pitched (he also went seven in his last start at PNC Park against St. Louis) and threw fewer than 100 pitches for the first time since he hurled the ball 98 times against Chicago in the first game of the season. “We were very efficient tonight,” Burnett said. “We mixed in changeups that we don’t normally throw and we got a few more strikeouts on fastballs and curveballs.” Asked if he could have asked for anymore with a performance like the one he had Friday, Burnett said there was always room for improvement. “I could take 15 (strikeouts),” he said. “I’m trying to keep up with (Texas’) Yu Darvish. He’s pretty filthy.”
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kings terminate Mike Richards' contract due to 'breach'

Report: Nets believe they can trade Deron Williams

Mickelson likely committed no crime even if he gambled

Report: Dwyane Wade to decline option, become a free agent

Darren McFadden: I feel like a rookie again

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Mavericks a favorite to land DeAndre Jordan

Report: Kevin Love likely to re-sign with Cavaliers

Bo Ryan announces he'll coach Wisconsin one more season

Jadeveon Clowney must balance expectations in recovery

Report: Suns may shop Eric Bledsoe in trade talks

Cam Newton ready to embrace pressure from massive contract

Fred Smoot: I played with gay players, 'everyone knew'

Bobby Portis brings donuts for media at press conference

John Calipari shares his thoughts on Confederate flag

Steve Weatherford, Jason Kelce get into Twitter beef

Larry Nance Jr. apologized to 'Mr. Bryant' for rapist tweet

J.J. Watt 'tackles' stage crasher at Zac Brown Band show

Jimmy Butler reportedly wants to leave Bulls, sign with Lakers

Selecting the 2015 National League All-Stars

Taking a look at the Philadelphia Sixers' latest horde

Aaron Rodgers and Olivia Munn showcase sword fighting skills

Five injuries having the biggest effect on MLB playoff race

Jeff Francoeur makes one of the worst throws in history

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Mickelson linked to money laundering?

Reminiscing on 'Love & Basketball' 15 years later

Selecting the 2015 NL All-Stars

The Sixers' latest horde

Projected landing spots for NBA's top free agents

MLB changes format for Home Run Derby

Revis to work out with Patriots DBs

Peterson: I'm still NFL's best RB

Kobe gives great quote on friendship

Winners, losers and steals of the NHL Draft

Carmelo calls Porzingis a 'steal'

WATCH: J.J. Watt scores hockey goal

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.