PANIC: Nats Drop Eckstein, Lose Game to Pirates

PANIC: Nats Drop Eckstein, Lose Game to Pirates

The Washington Nationals, fresh off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers, fired their longtime hitting coach, Rick Eckstein, in hopes of awaking their dormant bats and saving their season.

For one night at least, it did not work.

The Nationals failed to get a ball out of the infield until the 5th inning, losing to the Pittsburg Pirates 6-5 at Nationals Park. Starting pitcher Charlie Morton (2-2) gave up three runs in 6 2/3 innings, including a home run by outfielder Jayson Werth.

Center fielder Andrew McCutchen hit a pair of two run home runs in the first three innings against Dan Haren (4-11), who is winless in 11 starts since May 9.

The Nationals did close to 6-5 in the ninth, on a two run homer by Jayson Werth, his second of the game, that knocked out Pirates closer Jason Grilli, who left with shoulder tightness. His status was unknown after the game.

Vin Mazzaro notched his first save, retiring Steve Lombardozzi with a man on second.

Before the game, however, the talk was about firing of the Nationals longtime hitting coach Rick Eckstein.

Eckstein had survived two managerial changes but could not survive the downturn in the Nationals bats this year. The team ranked 27th in batting average and 28th in runs scored this year. They scored only 18 runs in 12 total games.

Eckstein did see several of the Nationals young players win Silver Sluggers during his tenure, including shortstop Ian Desmond, but was fired as the Nationals look to improve the second-worst offense in the National League.

Rick Schu, the team’s minor-league hitting coordinator, will take over as hitting coach until the end of the season.