Davey Johnson got his first win as the new field manager of the Washington Nationals, thanks in large part to the at-bats he gave to veteran Matt Stairs in Anaheim.
Stairs started three games in a row in Los Angeles and Friday, he stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter with a man on third. Stairs smacked an RBI single off the right field wall for another walk-off winner for the Nationals, 2-1 over the Pittsburgh Pirates before 22,399 at Nationals Park.
Early on, Washington continued their rare recent struggles in the field. The Nationals made a couple of sloppy plays on defense in the third inning, one by starter Tom Gorzelanny and the other by first baseman Michael Morse, which led to an RBI groundout by Alex Presley.
But Roger Bernadina finally got to starter Charlie Morton with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the sixth, deep to right center field and over the head of Andrew McCutchen to tie the game, 1-1.
Gorzelanny lasted seven innings, allowing six hits, one unearned run, one walk and eight timely strike outs.
“The biggest thing was I was able to start out and get ahead of guys,” Gorzelanny said. “I was trying to throw a lot of strikes. I was able to do that and get some quick outs. I had some good defense behind me. I was trying to get the ball on the ground. I was successful at that (Friday).”
Morton held the Nationals to three hits and one run, the Bernadina homer. Drew Storen came on in the ninth and threw a scoreless frame for the win (5-2). Tim Wood gave up two hits and the winning run for the Bucs in the loss (0-3).
The Nationals evened their mark to 41-41. Johnson now has 1,149 wins as a manager. He has at least one win with five different teams.