Cincinnati hopes its bats can stay hot Saturday in its second game against Washington at Great American Ballpark.
Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart each connected on a pair of home runs Friday night as the Reds (3-1) totaled six homers in a 15-0 victory. One series earlier, Cincinnati totaled 11 runs on 16 hits while taking two of three from the Angels to start the season.
"A lot of people were questioning our hitting after the last series, even though we won two out of three," said Cozart, who was 0 for 11 in three games before Friday. "Tonight, we showed that we can hit. Hopefully, we'll keep it going this weekend."
The Reds' offense could be even scarier considering two of its best hitters - Joey Votto and Jay Bruce - have yet to homer this season. The team is also without Ryan Ludwick , who hit 26 home runs last year but is likely out until after the All-Star break following shoulder surgery Wednesday.
Votto started 1 for 10 in his first three games, but got it going Friday with a 3-for-4 performance. He is hitting .444 over his last eight games against the Nationals.
Bruce is mired in a 3-for-18 slump, although two of those hits came against Washington. The right-fielder led the team with 34 home runs last year, but has developed a reputation as a streaky hitter. He hit .290 or better last April and August, but also hit .229 or worse in three separate months.
"We need him, especially in the middle part of the order," manager Dusty Baker told the team's official website. "He comes up almost every at-bat with somebody on base."
Bruce is 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
"That's why when he's hot, he can get a bunch of RBIs in a short period of time. When you're cold, it compounds the pressure," Baker added.
The Nationals (3-1) became baseball's last team to suffer a loss, and it was their most lopsided defeat since returning to Washington in 2005. They were fresh off allowing just one run on 15 hits in a season-opening sweep of the Marlins, though as Friday starter Dan Haren quickly found out, the Reds' batting order is much more difficult to navigate.
"I've had my share of bad games along with good games," said Haren, who surrendered four home runs in his Washington debut. "They're tough to deal with, but the sooner you forget about it, the better."
Left-hander Ross Detwiler will look for better luck as he gets the nod Saturday. He owns a 3.13 ERA in four career starts against the Reds, though he went 0-3 in those games.
Cincinnati's starters struck out a club-record 43 batters over the first four games, including six by Homer Bailey in as many innings Friday. But that pace is likely to cool Saturday when Mike Leake takes the hill.
Leake hasn't been much of a strikeout pitcher during his career, averaging 6.0 per nine innings. But the Reds - who chose not to skip his start despite Tuesday's off day - hope he can still be effective following a spring in which he posted a 5.12 ERA over five outings.
|March 22, 2013||Christian Garcia||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm tendon|
|April 02, 2013||Ryan Ludwick||Day-to-Day||Torn cartilage in right shoulder|
|April 02, 2013||Ryan Ludwick||15-Day DL||Torn cartilage in right shoulder|
|March 22, 2013||Nick Masset||15-Day DL||Recovery from right shoulder surgery|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Ian Desmond slapped his hands together as hard as he could when he approached home plate, about to score the go-ahead run in the 11th inning.
His rough day was ending with a very good moment.
Desmond made two errors that helped the Cincinnati Reds take the game to extra innings, then led off the 11th with his first home run of the season, rallying the Washington Nationals to a 7-6 victory Saturday.
"A lot of mixed feelings right now," Desmond said.
Great American Ball Park can do that to anybody.
Bryce Harper also homered for the Nationals, who were coming off a 15-0 loss in the series opener - their most lopsided defeat since baseball returned to Washington in 2005. The Reds hit six homers in that one, pounding a pitching staff that gave up only one run in its first three games.
Washington got the better of it this time, hitting five homers to Cincinnati's one. The teams have combined for 12 homers, accounting for 20 of the 28 runs in the series.
Mistake pitches have landed in the seats. So have some good ones.
"Strange things happen here," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "I'm hoarse from yelling."
Desmond's two errors led to a pair of runs that helped the Reds rally from a 5-1 deficit against one of the NL's best bullpens, which has been hit hard in the first two games of the series.
Nationals closer Rafael Soriano blew a save for the first time in three chances. He gave up a leadoff homer to Shin-Soo Choo in the ninth before Joey Votto tripled - his first extra-base hit of the season - and scored on a wild pitch.
"It's been two crazy games," said Washington outfielder Jayson Werth , who hit a solo shot. "Last night, they didn't miss all night. Today I felt we were in command, then we weren't, then we were."
Not until the final pitch.
Desmond's leadoff homer in the 11th off J.J. Hoover (0-2) made it 6-5. Wilson Ramos added a solo homer, his second of the game.
Craig Stammen (1-0) pitched the last two innings. He gave up a two-out RBI double to Brandon Phillips in the 11th before fanning Jay Bruce to end it.
"We had a chance to win that game several times," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We've got to come up with the big hit. I guess turnabout's fair play."
Extra-inning games have been the norm between the NL's top two teams from last season - Washington won a league-best 98 games, Cincinnati 97. They've gone to extra innings in five of their last 10 meetings.
The Reds also lost their opener to the Angels 3-1 in 13 innings on Monday, with Hoover giving up a pair of runs.
Harper connected on a two-run shot off Mike Leake in the third inning, his third homer of the season. Ramos added a two-run homer in the sixth, a pleasant moment in a ballpark where the catcher had his lowest point last season.
Ramos also homered at Great American last year, but later tore cartilage in his right knee while chasing a passed ball. He needed two operations to get the knee healed and missed the rest of the season.
Washington made three errors that kept the Reds in it.
Desmond's throwing error set up Todd Frazier 's RBI double in the fourth. His fielding error let in another run in the eighth that trimmed it to 5-4. Desmond has four errors already after committing only 15 last season.
"Guys are getting me ground balls, and I look like I've never fielded a ground ball before," Desmond said. "It's tough.
"I can't imagine what it would have been like with a loss. Obviously for myself it wouldn't have been an easy day. It's still not going to be an easy day - 1 for 4 with two errors isn't very productive, I guess you'd say."
Frazier had three hits and drove in two of Cincinnati's runs. He's the only Reds player to hit safely in all five games.
Choo, obtained from Cleveland in the offseason to bat leadoff, had a homer and a single, and was hit by a pitch for the fourth time in five games. He has reached base safely in 13 of his 25 plate appearances.
NOTES: The Reds honored Johnson on the field before the game, presenting etched glassware among his gifts. Johnson, the NL Manager of the Year last season, led the Reds to the NL championship series in 1995. ... Nationals 1B Adam LaRoche got a day off. He's been bothered by a sore back and is 0 for 13, matching the worst start of his career. ... Votto is 5 for 18 this season with four singles and one RBI.
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