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Morton befuddled as Pirates fall 5-4 to Nationals

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 15, 2014 at 11:07 pm •  Published: August 15, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pittsburgh Pirates starter Charlie Morton wished he could explain this miserable three-inning effort.

His manager said it might not be possible.

Morton allowed all five runs in his shortest outing of the season and the Pirates fell 5-4 to the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

"We didn't see a lot of consistency of sink and sharpness to the breaking ball, the misfires sometimes even in the zone," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "Just got behind and wasn't able to recover."

Morton (5-12) allowed seven hits and walked three before exiting for a pinch hitter in the fourth. He gave up three runs in the first.

Five days ago, he yielded four runs in the fifth inning of an 8-2 loss to San Diego, and has allowed three runs or more in 13 innings this season.

"I just, I don't know," Morton said, trying to explain the first inning. "I mean, you saw what happened."

Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche each drove in two runs to help the NL East-leading Nationals stretch their win streak to four games.

Denard Span added three hits and Tanner Roark (12-7) gave up three runs on five hits, including a two-run homer to Starling Marte, over 5 2-3 innings.

The Pirates scored another run off Nationals closer Rafael Soriano in the ninth, who escaped with his 29th save when Josh Harrison popped to the catcher with runners on the corners.

"We pushed about as far as we could to get one more swing, one more pitch," said Hurdle, whose club has lost three straight.

The first five Nationals hitters of the game reached base. Morton caught a break when Span was thrown out trying to steal third, but LaRoche's single made it 1-0.

With bases loaded, Harper fouled a 2-2 pitch off his right foot and needed a several moments to recover. He stepped in and eventually lined a 3-2 pitch to right-center field for a two-run single, making it 3-0.

"I didn't feel like they were driving balls off of me," Morton said. "I was falling behind."

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