WASHINGTON -- Faced with the based loaded, two outs and one of baseball's hottest hitters at the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning, there was nowhere Felipe Vazquez wanted to be more than on the mound at Nationals Park.
"I like that excitement," Vazquez said. "He's a good hitter right now and he's been hitting the ball everywhere. For me, that's a challenge. I take every hitter like him as a challenge."
"I was trying to locate it a little differently," Suero said of the curveball Martin hit. "I was trying to get it on the dirt for him to chase it. Unfortunately, I hung it just a little bit and he made contact."
That brought up Rendon, who is hitting .400 with six homers in 55 at-bats. On the sixth pitch, Rendon lofted a fly to center to end the game and secure Pittsburgh's first series victory at Nationals Park since 2013.
"I made my own jam, so I had to get out and I worked my way through," Vazquez said.
Vazquez, who pitched parts of two seasons for Washington before he was dealt to Pittsburgh in 2016, blossomed into an All-Star last year. He has yet to allow a run in 8 2/3 innings this season.
"The guy is incredibly talented," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "When you see him at 100 on his 42nd pitch, and basically you saw the velocity trend up throughout the outing."
"Just the focus, that competitive spirit, and you're going against a guy with a 10-game streak of extra base hits and he got a hit earlier and the bases are loaded. It's all good stuff, and he loves those situations," he said.
Washington starter Max Scherzer allowed three runs and seven hits while working a season-high eight innings. He struck out seven. He gave way to Suero, who walked Bell to lead off the ninth and moved to second on Colin Moran's grounder.
With two outs, Martin hit a ground-rule double to left for his second major league RBI.
"He got some big outs and then he just couldn't finish that last pitch," Washington manager Dave Martinez said.
The inning compounded Washington's early-season relief woes. The Nationals entered the day with the worst bullpen ERA in the majors and it rose to 7.75.
Pittsburgh starter Jameson Taillon gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings.
Rendon extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games with a single in the sixth.
Pirates: OF Gregory Polanco (left shoulder) had two hits and drove in two runs Saturday in his first rehabilitation appearance at Triple-A Indianapolis. ... RHP Dovydas Neverauskas (oblique strain) had two strikeouts in a scoreless inning Saturday for Indianapolis. He's thrown three scoreless innings during three rehab appearances at Indianapolis and Class A Bradenton.
ARCHER DROPS APPEAL
Archer dropped his appeal and began serving a five-game suspension for setting off a benches-clearing altercation on April 7. Archer threw a fastball behind Cincinnati's Derek Dietrich, who had stood and watched a long home run in his previous at-bat. Archer, who pitched seven innings Saturday against Washington, will make his next start April 21 at home against San Francisco.
Pirates: Pittsburgh has Monday off. It begins a two-game series at Detroit on Tuesday as RHP Joe Musgrove (1-0, 0.00 ERA) starts against the Tigers for the first time.
Nationals: After an off day Monday, RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-0, 5.40) starts Tuesday as Washington begins a three-game series at home against San Francisco.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Fans heckling Astros at spring opener get signs confiscated
Fans hoping to heckle the Astros at Houston's spring opener against the Nationals on Saturday had their signs taken away by someone who worked for the ballpark.
Fans heckling Astros spring opener get signs stolen
Fans hoping to heckle the sign-stealing Houston Astros at their spring opener were met with quite the coincidence.
Jack Flaherty named Cardinals' opening day starter
Jack Flaherty, who finished fourth in the voting for the National League's Cy Young Award last season, will get the start for the Cardinals on Opening Day, manager Mike Shildt said Saturday.
Hernandez tosses 2 scoreless innings in Braves debut
Felix Hernandez strikes out a pair of Orioles in two scoreless innings in first outing in a Braves uniform.
White Sox agree to deals with Aaron Bummer and Leury Garcia
The Chicago White Sox agreed Saturday to a $16 million, five-year contract with reliever Aaron Bummer that includes two club options, and a $3.5 million, one-year deal with infielder Leury Garcia.
In a sea of Astros criticism, some lines should never be crossed
Cheaters? Yes. The Houston Asterisks? Very clever. But no matter how you feel about what the Astros did, there is still a point when the vitriol has gone too far.