This young Pirates fan wears 18 innings of emotions on his sleeve

As soon as he hit it, we were like 'Yeah, we're going to play 16 innings.' We were wrong.

Although the Washington Nationals only played three games this week because of the All-Star Break, they were able to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in two of three games.

It took eighteen innings to decide it. Starling Marte's eighteenth-inning solo home run off Oliver Perez finally lifted the Pirates to a sweep-avoiding 2-1 win.

Put it all together and you have what Pirates manager Clint Hurdle described to The Associated Press as a insane game. "I don't know if (a game like this) builds character, but it definitely reveals character".

The bullpens - and the stadium - emptied over the course of 5 hours, 48 minutes. It was close to ending a lot earlier; Washington was down to its last strike in the ninth when pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy hit a tying homer, his 18th.

By the time the 10:35 a.m. start ended at 4:23 p.m., stellar outings by Pittsburgh's Chad Kuhl and Washington's Max Scherzer felt like a distant memory.

One night later, Roark didn't allow an extra-base hit as he shut out the Pirates over eight innings. Hurdle said it was the outing Kuhl expected out of himself after some struggles, and the right-hander rewarded the organization for giving him the nod when Jonathon Niese was demoted to the bullpen. He went six innings, allowed three runs on five hits and struck out five.

DIAMONDBACKS 6, DODGERS 5: Robbie Ray pitched seven scoreless innings, Jake Lamb hit his 21st home run and host Arizona held on to beat Los Angeles to take two of three from the Dodgers.

"I think the nicest thing was [Melancon] made his pitch and I didn't roll it over to the first baseman", Murphy said. After a trip to the All-Star Game in San Diego, then two days spent resting and treating a sore hamstring, it took Murphy some time to jump back into that unrelenting rhythm that characterized his first half.

With basically two ideal throws, first by center fielder Michael Taylor and then by shortstop Danny Espinosa, the Nats were able to nab Fryer at the plate and keep the score tied.

Turner wouldn't have had a chance to single that inning at all if it weren't for a flawless relay executed in the top of the 16th.

Pujols connected in the first and fourth innings of his 53rd multi-homer game. Seventeen pitchers combined for a total of 540 pitches, but it was the one Perez (2-3) shouldn't have thrown that the Nationals lamented afterward.

It was Murphy's fourth career pinch-hit home run and first since April 27, 2011, when he was with the New York Mets, and the Nationals' 10th of the season as a team.

As Marte stepped to the plate with two outs in the top of the 18th, manager Dusty Baker looked into the opposing on-deck circle and saw pitcher Jon Niese.

"Normally it's a good idea in that case to maybe walk him or at least consider it, but they gave me the opportunity to pitch to him", Perez said through team translator Octavio Martinez.

"I just didn't execute enough pitches".

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle successfully challenged two plays on the bases in the sixth. Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon was not in the starting lineup due to the flu. "It falls on me", Baker said. LHP Sammy Solis will be placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a right knee injury.

Washington had a chance to win the game in the 14th but Jayson Werth, who had two walk-off RBIs in June, flied out with speedy Trea Turner (two hits) on second base to end the threat.

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