WASHINGTON -- Four inevitabilities have taken root in our nation's capital, by all appearances:
Life's double play of death and taxes, followed by government bailouts and Nationals bullpen blowups.
Nanoseconds after Washington tacked up a five-run inning against starter Ross Ohlendorf, the Pirates in the top of the next frame began doing what comes naturally against the Nationals' relief staff: thumping it soundly. Jack Wilson's two-run double opened a five-run sixth that propelled the Pirates to nine runs off the bullpen and a 12-7 victory, their fifth triumph in their past seven games.
Before 14,549 at Nationals Park, they inaugurated their 10-game road trip with a relatively sturdy effort.
There was defense, especially marked by Wilson's dive into left field and high-arcing throw to get out Ryan Zimmerman -- he of the 30-game hitting streak earlier this season -- to open the fourth inning.
There was timely hitting, with Wilson plating two runs and pinch-hitter Brandon Moss, Delwyn Young and Nate McLouth driving in one apiece in the sixth against Garrett Mock and Jesus Colome. Seven Pirates drove in runs, they went a gaudy 7 for 14 with runners in scoring position, and a second consecutive double-digit total gave the club a 30-run spurt in the past three games.
There was some solid pitching, with Ohlendorf allowing just two hits -- both to Cristian Guzman -- in the four innings before that two-homer, two-double fifth. Following him were Jesse Chavez, Tom Gorzelanny in his first Pirates appearance since Sept. 10 and first in major league relief outing since 2005, John Grabow (who yielded a run) and closer Matt Capps (ditto).
Then again, most every staff stands taller when measured against Washington, which began last night dead last in the majors with a 5.72 ERA. In fact, its staff is on pace to surrender the second-most runs since 1939, behind only the 1996 Detroit Tigers, who lost 109 games. Its bullpen's record fell to 1-13.
Ohlendorf (5-3), in recording his fifth victory in his past six decisions, outdueled Washington rookie Ross Detwiler, the fellow picked in the 2007 draft right behind the Pirates' Danny Moskos and Baltimore's Matt Wieters.
"Our offense did a great job," Ohlendorf said. "Really, two games in a row they've really done a good job [including an 11-4 defeat Sunday of Colorado]. Jack obviously had a tremendous day. Made at least one really outstanding play and made some good ones. Went four for four and almost hit for the cycle.
"It was tough for a while A lot of guys were struggling at the same time. But I feel like we're playing really well right now, and I think we're going to keep it going."
Craig Monroe, starting for just the second time in the past 10 games, jump-started the Pirates in the third inning with his third home run of the season -- all of the three-run variety -- for a 3-0 lead.
With Ohlendorf struggling, Washington got five runs and back-to-back Nick Johnson and Zimmerman homers in the fifth to take a 5-3 lead. It lasted about as long as it took for Mock (0-2) to trot to the mound. Seconds, really.
"Everybody contributed," said Wilson, who had his 13th career four-hit game and walked in a fifth plate appearance. "The big turning point was Andy [LaRoche] getting that bunt down" against Mock to move up Adam LaRoche, who walked, and Robinzon Diaz, who was hit by a pitch. Of course, that set the table for Wilson's two-run double. "I'm thinking just one [run] there. That was the best moment [of the night] for me, the double ..."
In the eighth, Wilson lead off with a triple and scored on another Young run-scoring single. Speaking of young, Wilson said: "I'm not going to lie, I got to third base and said, 'I'm officially old.' "
Gorzelanny inherited two baserunners on second and third from Chavez in the seventh and struck out power hitter Adam Dunn with a 75 mph curveball that broke a foot or more.
"It was definitely a different feeling," said Gorzelanny, a starter who opened this year at Class AAA Indianapolis. "It was definitely a big situation. I'm used to it, but not late in the game out of the bullpen. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing. Pretty nerve-racking, too."
Game: Pirates vs. Washington Nationals, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.
TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
Pitching: RHP Jeff Karstens (1-2, 5.06) vs. LHP Shairon Martis (5-0, 4.10)
Key matchup: Everyone vs. Martis, a terrific 22-year-old rookie who has allowed more than three runs in only one of his seven starts and owns nearly half of last-place Washington's victories as a team.
Of note: The Pirates, despite their losing record, had outscored opponents, 162-158, heading into the game last night.
Chuck Finder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published May 19, 2009 4:00 AM