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Lincoln, Tabata provide big boost in debut

Lincoln, Tabata provide big boost in debut

WASHINGTON -- With one win in their past five games, the Pirates called up right-hander Brad Lincoln and outfielder Jose Tabata to provide a spark and get them back in the win column.

But while Pittsburgh fell to Washington, 7-5, at Nationals Park on Wednesday, it gained something more valuable -- a sense of what its future could entail.

Lincoln, in his first big league start, earned a no-decision after allowing five runs on seven hits in six innings. He also helped with his bat, going 2-for-3 with an RBI on an infield single in the fifth inning.

Tabata was 2-for-4 with a run scored, a steal and a walk. He left the game in the eighth inning for precautionary reasons after having a cramp in his right hamstring.

Lincoln said it was a day he would never forget, as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft had been waiting to come to the Major Leagues for a while.

"It's something I have looked forward to for a while now, and for me to get this chance is really exciting for me," Lincoln said.

He pitched well at times, but had problems during two innings.

After walking Ryan Zimmerman with two outs in the first inning, Lincoln gave up a two-run homer to Adam Dunn to right-center field.

He wasn't in much trouble again until the fourth inning, when everything fell apart for a few minutes.

Roger Bernadina's double to deep center field scored Josh Willingham from first base to tie the game at 3 with one out. Ian Desmond followed with a double on a line drive to right field. Lastings Milledge tried to make a diving catch on the ball but couldn't.

Washington starter John Lannan later hit a grounder that rolled too slowly for shortstop Ronny Cedeno to make a play. It allowed Desmond to score from third base and give the Nationals a 5-4 lead.

Despite the rough fourth inning, Pirates manager John Russell said he liked Lincoln's demeanor on the mound and the poise he showed.

"The three-run inning really hurt him, but he showed he can bounce back and start making his pitches," Russell said. "I got to hand it to Brad, he didn't crumble. He still continued to pitch well, use his pitches, and it's a great sign for a young pitcher."

Dunn said he sees good things in the future for Lincoln.

"I don't think that was his best stuff tonight," Dunn said. "His breaking ball was a little inconsistent, but I think it's really, really good. He reminds me of Ben Sheets."

Though Tabata had a disappointment of his own, leaving the game early, he showed glimpses of why he was called up.

He led off the game by hitting a hard shot to shortstop Desmond and reached with an infield single. In the fourth inning, Tabata tapped one in front of the plate and got another infield single.

Tabata then stole second moments later and scored on Neil Walker's single for a 4-2 lead.

Tabata said his hit in the first inning set the tone for his night.

"I was a little nervous [before the game]," Tabata said. "After that I felt like normal."

Russell said Tabata was patient at the plate and did a good job utilizing his speed.

"He's going to be a big boost for our offense, as we saw tonight," Russell said. "We jumped out, scored some runs, and he was a big part of it. It's going to be nice having him in there."

The Pirates' new players didn't get them into that win column, but they clearly gave the team a boost. They'll hope for more of the same in the future.

Greg Rosenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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