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Bucs drop finale in Washington as bats cool

Special to MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Trevor Williams cruised through five innings Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park, allowing just two baserunners to reach. Then, in the sixth, a pair of swings changed the complexion of the Pirates' series finale against the Nationals.

First, Trea Turner connected on a two-run homer to left field, then seven pitches later, Ryan Zimmerman took the right-hander deep to center field. The two dingers proved the difference in Pittsburgh's 3-1 loss to Washington.

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WASHINGTON -- Trevor Williams cruised through five innings Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park, allowing just two baserunners to reach. Then, in the sixth, a pair of swings changed the complexion of the Pirates' series finale against the Nationals.

First, Trea Turner connected on a two-run homer to left field, then seven pitches later, Ryan Zimmerman took the right-hander deep to center field. The two dingers proved the difference in Pittsburgh's 3-1 loss to Washington.

View Full Game Coverage

"We didn't provide him with any safety net," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Williams. "He pitched a very competitive game."

Pittsburgh has now endured two four-game sweeps on the road in two weeks, with the first coming against the Phillies from April 19-23.

"Baseball's weird. We're going to win some games, we're going to get streaky," Williams said. "It's going to be nice getting out of D.C. and getting into Milwaukee and getting into our division."

After Williams -- who hadn't allowed more than two earned runs in a single start this season -- was pulled, right-handers Edgar Santana, Michael Feliz and George Kontos combined to hold Washington scoreless the rest of the way.

But the Pirates' offense continued to struggle in a series that saw the bats cool off after scoring 17 runs in a 3-game sweep of the Cardinals. Pittsburgh's lone run came in the eighth, when Gregory Polanco grounded into a bases-loaded fielder's choice.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Pirates do little against Doolittle: The Pirates had probably their best chance to put up some runs in the eighth inning, loading the bases with one out. Left-hander Sean Doolittle, though, limited the damage by inducing Polanco's force out -- which scored one run -- and Starling Marte into an inning-ending fly out.

Video: PIT@WSH: Polanco plates Moran in the 8th

SOUND SMART
The Pirates' 10 runs scored in Washington is actually their second-lowest output in a four-game series this season. The late-April set against the Phillies saw Pittsburgh manage only 5 runs.

HE SAID IT
"We didn't get on base very often. We only had, a handful of times [when] we had two runners on base in the four games. And then when the opportunities presented themselves, we weren't able to shoot that ball in the gap. We weren't able to get that big swing." -- Hurdle, on Pittsburgh's offensive struggles during the series

UP NEXT
Nick Kingham takes the mound for the second start of his career as the Pirates begin a three-game series in Milwaukee. His debut was one Pittsburgh fans won't soon forget, as the right-hander took a perfect game into the seventh inning before leaving after allowing one hit during that frame. The Brewers will send Junior Guerra to the mound for an 8:10 p.m. ET start time on Friday.

Joshua Needelman is a contributor to MLB.com and is based in Washington.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Trevor Williams