Pirates strike for five runs in first inning, knock off Nationals

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates fans received an Andrew McCutchen figurine for showing up to Saturday night's game against the Nationals.

Then they watched Pittsburgh's star center fielder help the Pirates toy with Washington.

McCutchen singled, scored three runs and stole two bases, and Pittsburgh scored five in the first and cruised to a 7-2 victory.

"They should have figurine day every day," McCutchen said with a smile. "I'm always looking to get to the next base any time I'm on base. The first thing is to get on, which I did. Once I get on, I like to create a little havoc to help out the guy hitting behind me."

That is Jose Tabata, who had two hits and a walk, from the No. 2 spot in the batting order.

Lyle Overbay had two hits and two RBIs for Pittsburgh and Ronny Cedeno had two hits, a day after the Pirates claimed Brandon Wood off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels to give him competition at shortstop.

"Andrew is such a threat every time he gets on base," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He really gave us a spark."

The Pirates had scored just five runs in getting swept in a three-game series by the Florida Marlins in Miami that ended Thursday.

Jeff Karstens (2-0) pitched into the seventh inning for his first win since moving into the starting rotation a week earlier in place of the injured Ross Ohlendorf. Karstens allowed two runs and six hits in six-plus innings with one walk and three strikeouts.

Karstens pitched much better than in his first start when he allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings at Cincinnati last Sunday.

"I was trying to be aggressive without being stupid and as efficient with my pitches as possible," Karstens said.

Jayson Werth homered for Washington, which lost its third game in a row, and Michael Morse had two hits.

Livan Hernandez (2-2) gave up seven runs -- four earned -- and nine hits in six innings with four walks and two strikeouts. He fell to 1-5 in nine career starts at PNC Park.

The Pirates won for just the second time in seven home games this season.

"We finally showed the home fans what we're capable of doing," Karstens said.

The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 11 minutes by rain. Hernandez was forced to change his normal pregame routine because he said the Pirates' stadium operations department did not inform the Nationals of the game's projected starting time until just a half-hour before the first pitch.

"I did 10 minutes of long toss then 20 minutes of warm-up pitches but I never had the chance to go back in the dugout," Hernandez said. "They should have told us at least 45 minutes before they started or delayed the game longer. Somebody made a mistake."

After McCutchen singled to lead off the first, Tabata doubled to end a 0-for-11 skid and Overbay followed with an RBI infield single. One out later, Garrett Jones drove a double over the head of Werth in right that one-hopped the wall and scored Tabata. Ryan Doumit and Cedeno sandwiched run-scoring singles around Pedro Alvarez's run-producing groundout to make it 5-0.

Washington got a run back in the top of the second when Adam LaRoche doubled and scored on Morse's single. However, the Pirates answered in the bottom of the inning as Tabata hit a sacrifice fly to score McCutchen, who led off with the first of his two walks, stole second and continued to third on catcher Wilson Ramos' throwing error.

Werth homered into the left-field bleachers leading off the fourth inning, just his third in 70 at-bats this season.

Signed to a $126 million, seven-year contract as a free agent in December, Werth is hitting .214. He did rob Neil Walker of extra bases with a leaping catch while crashing into the right-center field wall to end the fourth inning.

McCutchen drew a two-out walk in the sixth, stole second and scored on a single by Overbay to push Pittsburgh's lead to 7-2.

Karstens was lifted after allowing a double to Ramos and a single to Morse to start the seventh. Chris Resop relieved and escaped the first-and-third jam unscathed.

Joe Beimel and Evan Meek also pitched a scoreless inning each to finish the six-hitter.

Game notes
Wood was added to the active roster by Pittsburgh, a day after he was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels, and INF Pedro Ciriaco was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. ... Washington recalled INF Brian Bixler from Triple-A Syracuse and designated Syracuse LHP Lee Hyde for assignment. ... The Nationals optioned RHP Collin Balester to Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday night after he pitched a scoreless inning of relief to clear a roster spot for RHP Todd Coffey, who's expected to be activated from the disabled list before Sunday's game. Coffey has been out since April 9 with a strained left calf.