Marte lead Pirates to 2-0 victory over Nationals

Pittsburgh Pirates' Starling Marte, left, is greeted by Gregory Polanco (25) as he returns to the dugout after hitting a two-run home run off Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez in the third inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, July 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

By JOHN PERROTTO, Associated Press
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Starling Marte hit a two-run home run and Trevor Williams combined with four relievers on a five-hitter as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Washington Nationals 2-0 on Wednesday.
Marte homered to center field with two outs in the third off Gio Gonzalez after Jordy Mercer led off the inning with the first of his two doubles. That was enough to give the Pirates just their third win in nine games.
Williams (7-7) won for just the second time in his past 10 starts, giving up four hits with three strikeouts and three walks. He is 2-5 with a 6.26 ERA in that span after going 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA in his first nine outings.
Gonzalez (6-6) remained winless since May 28 despite allowing just two runs, six hits and one walk while striking out four. The left-hander is 0-4 in his past eight starts.
Washington (46-46) lost for the 11th time in 16 games and fell back to .500. The Nationals entered the season as favorites to win a third consecutive NL East title.
Richard Rodriguez, Edgar Santana, Kyle Crick and Felipe Vazquez followed Williams with one scoreless inning each. Vazquez earned his 20th save in 24 opportunities.
Pittsburgh’s David Freese had two hits.
A new shipment of bats were in the clubhouse when Nationals CF Bryce Harper arrived at the ballpark, a day after striking out four times in a 5-1 loss on Tuesday.
The bats didn’t help much, though, as Harper went 0 for 2 with two walks and a strikeout. His batting average is now .213.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) is scheduled for a second rehab start Sunday with a team to be determined. Strasburg threw 57 pitches in 3 1/3 innings Tuesday night for Class A Potomac and his fastball topped out at 98 mph. … 1B Ryan Zimmerman (strained right oblique) is likely to begin a rehab assignment Monday.
Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (strained right forearm) was examined by New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek in New York and advised not to throw for four weeks. … There is no timetable for the return of INF/OF Sean Rodriguez (strained right quadriceps), who is on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (11-5, 2.33 ERA) is scheduled to start Thursday night against Mets LHP Steven Matz (4-6, 3.31) in the opener of a four-game series at New York. Scherzer ended a four-game losing streak Saturday when he beat Miami, allowing four runs in seven innings.
Pirates: Open an unusual five-game series against visiting Milwaukee as RHP Jameson Taillon (5-7, 4.05) opposes LHP Wade Miley (1-0, 1.42). Taillon is 1-4 against the Brewers.
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