PITTSBURGH — Asdrubal Cabrera had a friend in Washington after he was let go by the Texas Rangers — and it was an influential one in Nationals hitting coach Kevin Long.
That partnership has paid off as Cabrera hit a three-run homer in the third inning as the Nationals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-1 on Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
“I had been with Kevin Long. He knew me from the Mets,” the Venezuelan-born Cabrera said. “I still had a chance to play baseball.”
Long was the former hitting coach for the Mets. One of his pupils there was Cabrera, a veteran who can play all four infield spots. Cabrera got another start at second base on Wednesday as Brian Dozier has been on paternity leave.
“(Cabrera) has been unbelievable since he has been here,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “He was not having a terrible year (with Texas). It’s tough; you don’t know what to expect” after being let go.
Martinez said he will find a way to play him even when Dozier returns. Cabrera has eight RBI in the last three games.
“Everyone is going to get an opportunity,” Martinez said.
Washington lefty Patrick Corbin lowered his ERA to 3.17 on Wednesday as he allowed just three hits and no runs eight innings against the Pirates.
He threw 93 pitches, 63 for strikes, before turning the game over to Tanner Rainey in the ninth.
“He was really good,” Martinez said. “His two-seamer was really, really good. He is keeping the ball down.”
Washington third baseman Anthony Rendon reached the 100 RBI mark for the second time in three years as he drove in two runs.
Rendon is now batting .323 after he was one of four Washington players to get two hits Wednesday.
Martinez notes Rendon even missed time early in the year with an injury. The free agent-to-be has hit nearly .350 in the last month.
“It’s a testament to what he has done all year,” Martinez said.
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