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Joey Gallo goes from 0-for-12 to 3 hits, including a homer, and the Nationals beat the Pirates 5-3

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Joey Gallo emphatically ended an 0-for-12 season-opening drought with an upper-deck homer that traveled 447 feet and two other hits, and the Washington Nationals beat the Pirates 5-3 on Wednesday night, Pittsburgh’s first loss of 2024.

“Just feels good to help the team win, feel like you’re contributing,” Gallo said.

Luis García Jr. doubled three times to tie a Nationals record and scored twice, CJ Abrams had a pair of RBIs, and Trevor Williams (1-0) allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings on a rainy evening in front of an announced crowd of 14,022.

Kyle Finnegan, the fifth Nationals pitcher, worked around a two-base throwing error by rookie third baseman Trey Lipscomb in the ninth and collected his second save in three chances this season — after blowing one in his last outing, a loss at Cincinnati on Sunday. Finnegan struck out former Nationals player Michael A. Taylor to end it.

Gallo, a 30-year-old first baseman who signed a $5 million, one-year contract as a free agent, homered in the second, doubled to right in the third and singled in the seventh — lifting his batting average from .000 to .188. He whiffed in half of his dozen at-bats entering this game.

He had no trouble connecting off 2023 All-Star Mitch Keller (0-1) to lead off the second, when the Nationals batted around and scored four runs after falling behind 2-0. Gallo pulled an 89 mph cutter into the second deck in right for a solo shot.

When Gallo is swinging well, Washington manager Dave Martinez said, “It gives us a power bat that drives in runs for us, and our lineup becomes explosive.”

Pittsburgh had been off to a 5-0 start for the first time since 1983 and last began a season 6-0 in 1962. This game was the Pirates’ first of the year without scoring at least six runs.

Pirates manager Derek Shelton was ejected in the seventh after leaving the dugout to argue with plate umpire Mike Muchlinski when Bryan Reynolds was called out on a check-swing third strike to end the top half of the inning. Reynolds went 0 for 4, and his 33-game on-base streak ended.

Shelton said he was asking Muchlinski to ask the third base umpire whether Reynolds had stopped his swing in time. The manager also wanted to make sure Reynolds didn’t get tossed.

“That’s why the third base umpire’s down there,” Shelton said. “Once I went on the field, I knew I was going to get ejected.”

Keller pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs — four earned — and eight hits.

“Giving up a four-spot in the second after we scored two is not ideal,” Keller said.

Taylor hit a two-run single for the Pirates, and Jack Suwinski homered off lefty reliever Robert Garcia in the sixth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: Put C Jason Delay on the 10-day IL with inflammation in his right knee and added C Joey Bart to the roster. Bart was acquired from the San Francisco Giants for minor league RHP Austin Strickland. Bart was designed for assignment by the Giants, who took him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft.

Nationals: CF Victor Robles was lifted for a pinch runner in the second after feeling something in his left hamstring. Martinez said Robles will have an MRI exam on Thursday. … OF Jesse Winker, who left Monday’s series opener after one inning because of a stomach illness, was “still a little under the weather” and out of the starting lineup, Martinez said. RHP Jordan Weems, who also was sick and couldn’t pitch Monday, faced three batters out of the bullpen Wednesday.

UP NEXT

In Thursday’s series finale, the Pirates send LHP Martín Pérez (0-0, 2.08 ERA) to the mound against Nationals RHP Josiah Gray (0-1, 15.75).

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Sports Writer

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