WASHINGTON — After more than five hours of baseball between his Pirates and the Nationals, Starling Marte had all he could take.
"Too many innings," Marte said. "We were tired. It was time for a home run."
Marte's solo homer off Oliver Perez in the 18th inning Sunday gave the Pirates a 2-1 victory in a marathon game that was the longest for both teams this season. The only longer game in the majors this season was July 1 when Cleveland beat Toronto in 19 innings.
"I just love the grit of our club," said manager Clint Hurdle, whose Pirates snapped a three-game losing streak. "I don't know if it builds character. It definitely reveals character."
The bullpens — and the stadium — emptied over the course of 5 hours, 48 minutes. There were 17 pitchers and 540 pitches. 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. Murphy's .350 leads the majors in hitting.