PITTSBURGH (AP) — Josh Palacios hit a two-run homer against his former team, Bailey Falter pitched six efficient innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Washington Nationals 5-1 on Tuesday night.
Palacios gave the Pirates a 2-0 lead in the second with his eighth home run, a 410-foot shot to the bullpen in center field.
“Homers are always great,” Palacios said. “I’m glad I could put two runs on the board for my team.”
Palacios also saved a run in the seventh. With the Pirates ahead 4-1, he threw out Ildemaro Vargas at the plate from right field.
“He made a great throw, which was a big throw at that point,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “Overall, I don’t think he could have played a better game.”
Palacios played 29 games for the Nationals last season, but Pittsburgh picked him up in the December minor league Rule 5 draft.
“This is a guy who wasn’t in a big league camp, started the year in Double-A and just performed his way to the big leagues,” Shelton said.
Falter (2-8) allowed one run and four hits with four strikeouts and a walk in his first start since Aug. 27. He threw 44 of 67 pitches for strikes.
The left-hander improved to 2-1 in eight games, five starts, with Pittsburgh since being acquired from Philadelphia at the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
“I feel like we’ve just been mixing pitches really well,” Falter said. “The spin pitches have gotten a lot better since I came over here, so we’ve just been rolling with that.”
Palacios, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Jack Suwinski and Endy Rodríguez each had two hits for the Pirates, who have nine wins in their last 14 games. Pittsburgh won this one despite going 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and stranding 15 overall.
“It would’ve been frustrating if we wouldn’t have taken good swings in those at-bats,” Shelton said. “Overall, I thought we had really productive at-bats.”
Washington issued four intentional walks — two to Suwinski. The Pirates were intentionally walked four times in a nine-inning game for the first time since Sept. 19, 1999.
The Pirates loaded the bases in the third and fourth, but came up empty both times. They loaded the bases again and broke through with two runs in the fifth and one in the seventh.
Rodríguez opened the fifth with a double and scored on Miguel Andujar’s single. Andujar later scored on a groundout by Bryan Reynolds to give Pittsburgh a 4-1 lead. Hayes drove in Alika Williams with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Joan Adon (2-2) lasted four innings for the Nationals. He allowed four runs and eight hits with four strikeouts and six walks.
In his previous two road starts, Adon took no-hitters into the sixth.
Vargas and Joey Meneses each had two hits for Washington. The Nationals scored in the fourth when Vargas singled home Keibert Ruiz.
The Pirates confirmed Oneil Cruz won’t return this season. The 25-year-old shortstop broke his left ankle in early April on an awkward slide into home plate against the Chicago White Sox.
The four-game series continues Wednesday, when Jackson Rutledge will make his MLB debut for Washington. The Nationals picked Rutledge No. 17 overall in the 2019 draft. He will face Colin Selby (2-1, 8.64 ERA) for Pittsburgh.