WASHINGTON -- Jose Tabata sports a variety of tattoos across his body. He was modeling a new color Thursday afternoon. But this wasn't ink.
Tabata was sporting a purple bruise on his right forearm after getting hit by a 96 mph fastball in the eighth inning of the Pirates' 4-2 victory Wednesday night against the Washington Nationals.
He did not start in the 9-7 loss Thursday against the Nationals, but struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
"I feel sore," Tabata said. "But it's fine."
The seams from the baseball were visible in the round bruise on his arm.
"He got splattered pretty good," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Much more than I anticipated."
After missing more than a month because of an oblique injury, he has hit .278 since returning from the disabled list July 3.
He is having his most productive season since his rookie year in 2010, when he hit .299.
But injuries continue to be a concern for Tabata, who spent significant time on the disabled list 2011 with a quadriceps injury.
He also missed time that year after getting hit by a pitch on his left hand toward the end of the season.
A controversial finish
The Nationals weren't too pleased with way the game Wednesday night ended. After Wilson Ramos singled off Pirates closer Mark Melancon with one out, Melancon got Denard Span to hit into a game-ending double play.
But the Nationals insist -- and video clearly indicates -- Ramos avoided a tag from Neil Walker en route to second base. But second base umpire Laz Diaz ruled him out.
"It wasn't even close," Ramos told reporters after the game. "[Diaz] said [Walker] tagged me. [Diaz said], 'I didn't hear it, but I saw it.'
"I said, 'You didn't see anything. It's not even close.' Maybe he wanted to go home."
After the game Wednesday, Walker wouldn't say whether he tagged Ramos.
Pitchers as hitters ...
The Pirates lead the major leagues with a 3.07 team ERA, but, when those pitchers are at bat, they don't fare so well.
Pirates pitchers rank 11th in the National League with a .112 batting average and are last in the league with a .135 on-base percentage. The one bright spot has been the youngest member of the starting rotation.
In his eight starts, rookie Gerrit Cole is hitting .357 (5 for 16).
Pirates pitchers have six RBIs this season, including one Thursday from A.J. Burnett.
They rank 12th in the league. Cole has three of those RBIs, despite not making his debut until June 11.
"He's done some things offensively at the plate," said Hurdle, who recently has tried to get Pirates pitchers to become more involved in batting practice.
"We hit as much as the pitchers can tolerate," Hurdle said earlier this month while the Pirates were in Chicago. "It's an area we will continue to work on improving."
Cole went 2 for 3 with an RBI in his most recent outing Tuesday.
"He actually was disappointed when he swung and missed at a breaking ball up," Hurdle said. "He said 'I missed a hanger.' I said, 'Don't worry kid, you'll miss it again.' "
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @msanserino. First Published July 26, 2013 4:00 AM