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Marte’s bat, Williams’ arm all Pirates need to down Nats

Starling Marte hit a two-out, two-run home run in the third inning Wednesday to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 2-0 win against the visiting Washington Nationals and give the hosts a series win at PNC Park.

Right-hander Trevor Williams (7-7) and four relievers combined on the five-hit shutout.

Marte was 1-for-3 with a walk and Jody Mercer hit two doubles-for-Pittsburgh, which has won three of four following a five-game losing streak.

Washington is 8-2 against National League Central clubs but has lost three of four and fell back to .500.

Nationals six-time All-Star and cleanup batter Bryce Harper went 0-for-2 with two walks and a strikeout a day after he went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts. His batting averages is now .213.

Williams broke a three-start losing streak. He had a strong — albeit not long — outing, going five innings with four hits, three strikeouts and three walks. He was 1-5 in his previous nine starts.

Felipe Vazquez struck out the side in the ninth for his 20th save.

Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez (6-6), who was coming off two straight no-decisions of five innings each, went six innings Wednesday. He gave up six hits, including Marte’s homer, with four strikeouts and one walk. He had been 4-1 in his against Pittsburgh.

Gonzalez was visited by an athletic trainer for possibly a twisted ankle in the sixth after he reached for what was a David Freese two-out single up the middle. He finished the inning but Washington pinch-hit for him in the seventh.

Washington had at least one runner on base in all but the second, eighth and ninth innings, but could not bring anyone around.

In the third, Mercer led off with the first of his two doubles, to left, and advanced to third on Williams’ sacrifice. After Josh Harrison struck out, Marte golfed his 11th homer 414 feet to dead center for the game’s only scoring.

–Field Level Media

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