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Date of game: 8/15/2014

Recap: Washington vs. Pittsburgh

Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - Tanner Roark pitched into the sixth inning and the Washington Nationals scored some early runs to hold off the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-4, to open a three-game series.

Adam LaRoche had a pair of RBI singles and Bryce Harper added a two-run base hit for the NL East leaders, who posted their fourth straight victory.

"We feel great. Confidence is high in this clubhouse," Roark. "With the guys that we have, the veterans that we have, we're just keeping it loose."

Roark (12-7) was charged with five hits and three runs over 5 2/3 frames. The right-hander has won five of his last six decisions.

Charlie Morton (5-12) endured a 31-pitch first inning and suffered the loss after allowing seven hits and five runs in three frames. Morton, who is winless (0-3) over his last eight starts, equaled his career-high for losses in a season (2010).

"It's really just managing the at-bats, each at-bat, and I didn't," Morton said.

Starling Marte hit a two-run homer and Pedro Alvarez had the other two RBI for the Pirates, who lost their third in a row since tying their season high-water mark of nine games over .500.

The Pirates failed to put a runner into scoring position for three straight innings leading to the ninth, but then scored once off closer Rafael Soriano. Marte led off with a single and came home on Alvarez's base hit to right with two outs. Pinch-hitter Chris Stewart grounded a hit to the right side to put the tying run at third, but Josh Harrison popped out to Wilson Ramos behind the plate for the final out, giving Soriano his 29th save.

Morton didn't retire any of the first six hitters he faced, although Denard Span was thrown out trying to steal third. LaRoche's grounder into right field plated Asdrubal Cabrera. After Ian Desmond walked to load the bases, Harper singled to right for a 3-0 lead.

LaRoche and Ramos had RBI singles in the third before the Pirates scored three times in the fourth. Neil Walker doubled with one out, and Marte followed with his sixth homer of the year, a blast to left. Alvarez's double to center scored Travis Snider.

Game Notes

Before the game, the Pirates put right-hander Stolmy Pimentel on the 15-day disabled list with a mild right ankle sprain. The move was made to accommodate the addition of pitcher John Axford to the active roster. Axford, who was claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Indians on Thursday, made his Pirates debut in the eighth inning and struck out two in a 1-2-3 frame ... Jordy Mercer had started each of the last 49 games at shortstop for the Pirates, but he missed Friday's game due to right forearm tightness. Harrison started in his place and went 0-for-5.

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