Nationals lose home opener 8-4 against undefeated Pirates

The Washington Nationals dodged a soggy home opener Monday as skies cleared just in time for the opening pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1983, beating the Nationals 8-4 with two run-scoring hits from Connor Joe, including a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth inning.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 01: Ke'Bryan Hayes #13 of the Pittsburgh Pirates avoids a tag attempt by CJ Abrams #5 of the Washington Nationals after hitting a double during the eighth inning at Nationals Park on April 01, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by

Michael A. Taylor, a former member of the Nationals, had three hits, and Bryan Reynolds, Andrew McCutchen, Alika Williams and Henry Davis delivered two apiece. Reynolds stretched his on-base streak to 33 consecutive games dating to last season with a first-inning single and tacked on a two-run double in the ninth.

Pittsburgh remained unbeaten in 2024, all on the road, following a four-game sweep of the Miami Marlins to begin the season.

Pittsburgh led 3-1 entering the seventh, but backup catcher Riley Adams — playing for the first time this season — tied the game for Washington by depositing a four-seam fastball 427 feet off reliever Roansy Contreras for a two-run homer. Contreras (1-0), though, got the win.

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That's because his teammates produced a three-run eighth off relievers Robert Garcia (0-1) and Matt Barnes. The big hit was Joe's double to left that scored Taylor, who reached on a bunt. Ke'Bryan Hayes and McCutchen also drove in runs.

Aroldis Chapman got Lane Thomas to pop up for the final out with two men on, earning his first save of the season.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez had used his top two relievers, Kyle Finnegan and Hunter Harvey, in each of the past two games, so he stayed away from them in front of an announced sellout crowd of 40,405 for the club's home opener on a gray, dreary afternoon with the temperature in the low 50s.

Neither starting pitcher factored in the decision. Marco Gonzales, acquired from Atlanta via trade in December, allowed one run in five-plus innings in his Pirates debut. Washington's MacKenzie Gore gave up three runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out six batters and hitting two — Joe and McCutchen.

Three of the loudest ovations during pregame introductions were showered on players no longer playing for Washington, which has finished last every year since its 2019 World Series title: Sean Doolittle and Geraldo Parra (of "Baby Shark" fame) — who are both now Nationals coaches — and Taylor, who drove in Pittsburgh's first run with a sacrifice fly.

The Nationals are 1-3.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.