Meek slams the door again


WASHINGTON — Starter Zach Duke was replaced by Evan Meek in the sixth inning tonight, when the Nationals loaded the bases with none out. Meek did the job, getting pinch-hitter Willie Harris to line into a 4-6 double play and Cristian Guzman to ground out.

“He did an amazing job there,” Duke said. “Come in with the bases loaded, nobody out and not give up a run, that’s kinda unheard of in this game. I can’t thank him enough.”

Meek has made eight straight scoreless outings, a total of 7 2/3 innings. He lowered his ERA to 0.76, which is tops among all relievers in the majors.

“Dominating,” was how manager John Russell described it. “That’s the way he’s thrown for us all year.”

• In the sixth, the Pirates had runners on first and second with two outs, but Bobby Crosby’s strikeout ended the inning. Crosby took a called strike two from umpire Lance Barksdale — on a pitch that replays showed was well outside the strike zone — and, clearly frustrated, fanned on a high fastball.

• Nice job tonight by lefty reliever Sean Burnett, who threw two scoreless innings against his former team.

• When Jose Tabata had two hits Wednesday, it marked the second year in a row that a Pirates leadoff hitter got at least two hits in his MLB debut. Andrew McCutchen did it last season. According to the stats wonks at Elias, the only other Pirates player to do it in the past 50 years was — would you believe? — Abraham Nunez in 1997.

• Friday, the Pirates begin a stretch of 15 straight interleague games. They won’t face another National League team until June 28.