Pirates muscle past Nationals in slugfest

Pirates muscle past Nationals in slugfest

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates clubbed three home runs off Max Scherzer and rallied for two more runs in the sixth inning as they beat the Nationals, 7-5, on Friday night at PNC Park.

Scherzer no-hit the Pirates at Nationals Park on June 20, but Pittsburgh struck quickly this time. Pedro Alvarez homered in the second, and Gregory Polanco and Neil Walker hit back-to-back shots in the fifth. One out from a perfect game the last time he faced the Bucs, Scherzer left after allowing five runs in five innings.

"They know what I got. That's how it goes sometimes," Scherzer said. "I just left some offspeed stuff and fastballs over the plate, and every time that happened, I paid for it."

Scherzer can't fend off power-packed Pirates

The Pirates' winning rally came against Nationals reliever Sammy Solis. Francisco Cervelli singled, pinch-hitter Brent Morel doubled to the center-field fence for the go-ahead run and Polanco knocked an RBI single back up the middle.

"To fight back, that's kind of what we're known for, battling and grinding it out," Walker said. "Games like tonight are pretty impressive given that that's one of the best pitchers in the league."

Polanco, Walker on win

Into the Allegheny: Alvarez went deep for the second time in as many games, this time clearing the right-field bleachers and bouncing a two-run homer into the Allegheny River in the second inning. It's the second time this season and the fourth time in his career that Alvarez has reached the river. More >

Must C: Alvarez's monster homer

Four-run fourth: Jeff Locke was perfect through three innings, but the Nationals finally figured out the nifty southpaw and tagged him for four runs.

Ramos' RBI single

Danny Espinosa battled out a nine-pitch walk, followed by Bryce Harper, who drew a six-pitch walk. Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos knocked one home with a line drive into center, and Dan Uggla later scored one with a bloop single, but the big blow came from Tyler Moore. The first baseman doubled to center field and scored Harper and Ramos.

Uggla's RBI single

Long AB, then longballs: With the Pirates facing a two-run deficit, Jaff Decker led off the fifth inning with an eight-pitch walk. Polanco then fell behind 0-2, fouled off a pitch, took three straight balls, fouled off five straight fastballs and ripped a curveball deep to right-center field to cap the 12-pitch at-bat. Walker immediately followed suit, crushing a 1-1 pitch to center field for a go-ahead solo shot. More >

Polanco homers after 12-pitch AB

"It was the definition of putting your nose in the at-bat and competing in the box," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Polanco's at-bat.

Walker goes back-to-back

Desmond destroys one: After struggling mightily for most of the season, Ian Desmond hit his 100th career home run Thursday night and followed it up on Friday with his 101st. In the sixth inning, Desmond cranked an 88-mph two-seam fastball from Vance Worley into the center-field seats, tying the game at 5. It was his third home run in the last five games.
More >

Desmond's solo home run

"It was awesome. Thank God that I wasn't going on every 3-2 [pitch]. I would've been tired." -- Decker, who was on first base during Polanco's 12-pitch at-bat

"We didn't get a hit last time we faced him. So at that particular point in time, we had two more runs and two more hits than the last time we saw him for nine innings." -- Hurdle, on Alvarez breaking the ice with his homer

Cut4: Alvarez continues his assault on the high seas

• Harper's one-out walk in the fourth inning extended his on-base streak to 21 games, a career high. He also added a double. It is the second-longest on-base streak by a Nationals hitter this season, as center fielder Denard Span reached safely in 23 straight games from June 4-July 4.

Harper's heads-up baserunning

• Friday night was just the second time this season that Scherzer did not complete six innings, and he tied a season high by allowing five runs. The last time Scherzer allowed three home runs in one game was Sept. 15, 2011, for the Tigers against the A's.

Scherzer's eight strikeouts

Nationals: Southpaw Gio Gonzalez, who has had the Pirates' number recently, looks to continue that trend at 7:05 p.m. ET on Saturday. Gonzalez, who is 7-4 with a 3.93 ERA this season, totes a solid 3.23 mark in five starts against Pittsburgh since 2012. The Nationals are 5-0 in those games.

Pirates: Third baseman Aramis Ramirez, acquired Thursday in a trade with the Brewers, is expected to join the Pirates in time for Saturday's showdown. It will be Ramirez's first game with the Pirates since July 22, 2003. Right-hander A.J. Burnett will start, carrying a 2-2 record and a 1.58 ERA through his first nine starts at PNC Park.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.