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Taillon back to form as Bucs' win streak ends

Right-hander experiences better command against Nats
Special to MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Pirates starter Jameson Taillon has been through tougher situations than a couple of bad starts, so keeping things in perspective allowed him to handle any stress that may have crept in before his next outing.

"No one likes to struggle and what I did the past two starts was probably worse than struggle -- those were really unacceptable, really bad starts," he said. "That's not who I am, that's not what I'm about. So, we just looked over some things, talked some things through and I tried not to lose confidence."

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WASHINGTON -- Pirates starter Jameson Taillon has been through tougher situations than a couple of bad starts, so keeping things in perspective allowed him to handle any stress that may have crept in before his next outing.

"No one likes to struggle and what I did the past two starts was probably worse than struggle -- those were really unacceptable, really bad starts," he said. "That's not who I am, that's not what I'm about. So, we just looked over some things, talked some things through and I tried not to lose confidence."

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Taillon was much more like himself on Monday night, although it wasn't enough to prevent his third straight defeat. Still, the positives did outweigh the negatives for the right-hander as the Nationals' 3-2 victory ended the Bucs' season-high five-game winning streak.

"He's very aware. The effort he put into kind of looking at the last two outings, where he could show improvement, what he needed to do different, he was able to put into play," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It was getting ready for it, but it [also] was taking it out on the mound. The intensity was a big part for me."

Video: PIT@WSH: Taillon gets Kendrick swinging in the 5th

Taillon went six innings -- more than his previous two outings combined -- and had greater command of his pitches, and a better mound presence than he did in his two prior defeats.

"He pitched well," catcher Francisco Cervelli said. "Baseball is up and down, man. This is our guy, this is our ace. This guy is going to be good. I got no doubt. He gave us a chance to win the game."

Trailing, 1-0, after allowing an RBI single to Wilmer Difo in the second, Taillon ran into trouble in the fourth as the Nationals strung together four straight singles, including run-scoring hits from opposing pitcher Tanner Roark and Trea Turner to open up a 3-0 lead. Six of the seven hits Taillon allowed were singles.

"That's tough," he said. "A couple of those were pretty bad pitches. That's kind of the story of my last couple of starts -- two-strike hits. That's what they did tonight. They got a couple of two-strike singles. I need to make a better pitch, but I'd rather singles, though, than doubles, I guess."

Taillon helped himself in the fifth when he got the Pirates on the board with the first double of his career, a deep drive to left-center that scored Jordy Mercer.

"I just blacked out and started running," Taillon said.

By the end of his night, Taillon was rolling, closing his outing with two strong innings -- frames he hopes he can build on for his next start.

"It's a balancing act," he said. "What can I clean up, what can I focus on, what can I work on without overreacting and changing too much?"

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Corey Dickerson was the other bright spot on offense for the Pirates, connecting in the seventh inning for a solo homer that traveled a projected 405 feet, according to Statcast™, into the second deck in right field. His third home run of the season made it 3-2. After Dickerson's blast, however, the final nine Bucs went down in order.

Video: PIT@WSH: Dickerson slugs a solo home run to right

SOUND SMART
The Pirates finished the first month [March-April] of the season with 142 runs, the most scored in the opening month since they tallied 131 in 1996. It's also the most runs the club has scored since logging 151 in September-October of 2015.

HE SAID IT
"He's very unpredictable on the mound. Tonight he beat us with fastballs, because of the slider, and the curveball and the changeup. The fastball got on us, he located it well, and stayed out of the middle of the plate." -- Hurdle, on Roark

UP NEXT
Pirates right-hander Chad Kuhl (3-1, 4.55 ERA) will be seeking his third straight victory in a marquee matchup against Nationals ace Max Scherzer at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Kuhl is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two previous starts against the Nats.

Elliott Smith is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Corey Dickerson, Jameson Taillon