Grilli suffers apparent injury in Pirates' 6-5 victory over Nationals

Rob Biertempfel
| Monday, July 22, 2013, 10:33 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Pirates manager Clint Hurdle tried to sound cheery, but he was not very convincing.

“I'm pleased we won a game,” Hurdle said Monday night after the Pirates outlasted the Washington Nationals, 6-5.

A win, yes, but potentially with a very high cost. Closer Jason Grilli left the game with two outs in the ninth inning with what the team said is right-forearm discomfort. Grilli will be re-evaluated Tuesday by doctors.

Called upon to protect a 6-3 lead, Grilli gave up a two-run homer to Jayson Werth. Denard Span doubled.

After throwing the first pitch to pinch hitter Steve Lombardozzi, Grilli flexed his right hand, clearly in pain, and stepped off the mound. After an athletic trainer briefly looked at his arm and elbow, Grilli left the game.

“He threw the ball and grimaced,” catcher Russell Martin said. “He called the trainers out, said he had some tightness and that was it. It's definitely a blow. Hopefully, it's not as severe as it can be. Hopefully, it's something minor.”

Grilli sat alone at his locker, head down. He did not speak with reporters.

In 2002, Grilli had Tommy John surgery and missed that entire season. In 2010, he sat out another season while recovering from major knee surgery.

Grilli certainly will miss at least some time recovering from this injury. Mark Melancon, who has 23 career saves, will fill in as the closer while Grilli is out.

“You hope for the best,” said right-hander Charlie Morton, who tossed 6 23 solid innings for the win. “It's never good to see somebody in pain, let alone your All-Star closer.”

Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat, then smacked another two-run shot in his second against Nationals right-hander Dan Haren.

It's no surprise McCutchen went off in the shadow of the Capitol dome. In 12 career games at Nationals Park, McCutchen is a .418 hitter with five homers and 12 RBI.

Overall against the Nationals, McCutchen is batting .431 with 13 homers and 26 RBI.

In the first inning, Jordy Mercer drew a one-out walk. McCutchen drove a 1-2 pitch to the opposite field. In the third, after Starling Marte was hit by a pitch, McCutchen launched his 14th homer of the season into the left-field seats.

McCutchen's blasts were the Pirates' first multi-run homers since July 12, when Pedro Alvarez jacked a two-run shot in the first inning against the New York Mets. The Pirates went deep six times — all solo homers — in three games over the weekend in Cincinnati.

Although they broke their string of solo home runs Monday, the Pirates continued to struggle to manufacture runs. The Pirates have two hits in their past 35 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Martin led off the fourth with a single and went to third base on Garrett Jones' double.

Gaby Sanchez grounded out to short, scoring Martin to make it 5-0. Clint Barmes grounded out. Charlie Morton stuck out.

That's 0 for 3 with RISP.

In the fifth inning, Mercer hit a one-out double off the left-field wall. But Haren (4-11) fanned McCutchen and Alvarez.

That's 0 for 5 with RISP.

Martin singled and stole second in the sixth. Jones grounded out, moving Martin to third. Sanchez popped out to short, and Morton grounded out.

That's 0 for 8 with RISP.

In the eighth, Alvarez was at third and Martin at second with one out. Sanchez hit a fly ball to left, but too shallow for Alvarez to score. The Pirates got a run out of the inning when reliever Drew Storen threw a wild pitch. Alvarez slid in hard, and Storen dropped the throw from catcher Wilson Ramos. Travis Snider popped out.

That's 0 for 10 with RISP.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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