"That's the Salomon Torres that we know," Tracy said. "He had very good movement and depth with the sinker, and a great split-finger."
Torres said that while watching video, he realized he was trying to outsmart batters. He told himself to throw with confidence again -- giving batters his best stuff and daring them to hit it. On Tuesday, those batters did not succeed.
"This is what I'm talking about," he said. "This is the type of outing that I remember from last year, and I can only get better and build off of this."
His splitter was all but untouchable. Washington's Nook Logan whiffed twice before striking out, Felipe Lopez whiffed twice before flying out, and Cristian Guzman could only muster a foul ball before his strikeout.
His performance in the eighth preserved a one-run lead for the Pirates' new closer, Matt Capps. Capps took care of all three batters to earn his second save of the year. When both pitchers are at their best, they create a dangerous 1-2 punch that is a welcome addition to the Pittsburgh bullpen.
Coming into Tuesday's game, the team had lost five games that were decided by one run, something Tracy attributed to not getting hits in key situations. With the bases loaded and two outs in the third, right fielder Xavier Nady brought in three runs with a double.
"Even though it takes place early in the game, it is a difference maker," Tracy said.
It was the sixth time in his career that Nady has had four RBIs in a game.
He was glad that the team was able to break out of its recent funk.
"We've been playing well, it's just that we've had some tough breaks," Nady said. "There were a lot of opportunities we didn't capitalize on, or something where they've had some timely hits."
The Nationals almost came back from a 7-2 deficit. They put up three runs in the sixth, including a double from Lopez that almost scored two runs. Pinch-hitter Tony Batista was sent home from first on the play, and was tagged out by catcher Ronny Paulino in a play that appeared to be a tie on television replays. Pittsburgh went through three pitchers to get out of the inning to setup Torres and Capps.
Starter Shawn Chacon improved his record to 2-0 in three starts. He also boosted his stats on the other side of the ball with a pair of hits and a run. After a seven-inning, 10-strikeout outing against San Diego, he said Tuesday's numbers were more representative of his game.
"It's not going to be me to go seven innings and get 10 punchouts. For the most part, I'm out there battling to keep the game close," he said. "If I come out there and go five innings and throw 80-100 pitches, but we're winning, I'll take that all night long."
He also joined the chorus of players praising Torres and Capps for their efforts in relief. After being on the losing side of close games, they're hoping the aggressive Torres can shut down opponents in the late innings all year long.
"I set the tone for Capps. I have the ability to come on for one or two innings," Torres said. "If I'm on, it's a beautiful thing."