It's been feast or famine at home for the Washington Nationals throughout April, and they have the chance to post their third sweep at Nationals Park on Sunday as they close out a four-game series versus the Cincinnati Reds .
Each of Washington's previous four series at home have resulted in sweeps. The Nationals (13-11) took three games from both Miami and the Chicago White Sox in their first six home games before dropping three-game sets to Atlanta and St. Louis.
Washington has reversed its fortunes at the Reds' expense in the first three games, outscoring them 15-4 in those wins following Saturday's 6-3 victory. Dan Haren pitched six solid innings and Bryce Harper went 2 for 3 with a two-run homer.
Harper has been a fairly accurate bell weather of Washington's success at home. In the nine wins, he is batting .531 (17 for 32) with five homers, but just .158 (3 for 19) in the six losses. He is 5 for 9 with two homers, a triple and a double in this series and his 18 RBIs this month has set a team record."And if you know him, he probably (thinks) he's having an off-year right now," manager Davey Johnson said of Harper. "He expects lot of himself and that's a good trait."
Tony Cingrani (1-0, 2.25) looks to slow down Harper and continue his impressive start since being called up from Triple-A earlier this month. The 23-year-old rookie has struck out 17 in 12 innings in his first two starts, including nine Tuesday over seven innings before Cincinnati eventually lost 4-2 in 10 innings.
"I was a lot more comfortable," Cingrani told the team's official website after not walking a batter in his last outing. "The tempo was a little bit slower to me, so it was good. I was trying to make first pitches and make sure I was getting ahead of people. I was just trying to give them a good quality start."
The left-hander has never faced the Nationals.
Cincinnati (13-12) has dropped eight straight on the road and is trying to avoid its worst skid there since losing nine in a row from June 7-19, 2004. The Reds have been shut out twice during these struggles and held to one run on three other occasions in that span, batting .187 and scoring 18 runs.
Nationals scheduled starter Ross Detwiler (1-1, 1.38) will try to extend those struggles while hoping for better offensive support. He has given up two or fewer runs in each of his four starts but was on the short end of a 2-0 defeat to St. Louis on Tuesday after giving up two runs in six innings.
The left-hander saw his bullpen blow a 5-1 lead versus Cincinnati on April 6 after he limited the Reds to an unearned run and six hits over six innings of 7-6, 11-inning victory. Detwiler is 0-3 in five lifetime starts versus the Reds despite a 2.48 ERA.
Joey Votto , who has scored two of Cincinnati's runs in this series and homered in Thursday's loss, is 1 for 8 with a solo homer lifetime against Detwiler.
Washington's last four-game sweep at home came against the Chicago Cubs from Sept. 3-6, and the Reds have not been swept in a four-game road series since Philadelphia accomplished the feat July 8-11, 2010.
|April 27, 2013||Chris Heisey||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained hamstring|
|April 24, 2013||Manny Parra||15-Day DL||Strained left pectoral muscle|
|April 22, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||Day-to-Day||Bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Zack Cozart||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right hand|
|April 20, 2013||Ryan Hanigan||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|April 14, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right lat|
|April 18, 2013||Ryan Zimmerman||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|April 16, 2013||Bryce Harper||Day-to-Day||Flu-like symptoms|
|April 16, 2013||Denard Span||Day-to-Day||Flu-like symptoms|
|April 14, 2013||Wilson Ramos||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|March 22, 2013||Christian Garcia||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm tendon|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Tony Cingrani struck out a career-high 11 - including four in one inning - while pitching two-hit ball through the sixth, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Washington Nationals 5-2 Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.
Brandon Phillips had a two-run single as the Reds (14-12) improved to a major league-worst 2-9 on the road.
Cingrani (2-0) pitched three perfect innings before Denard Span reached base to lead off the fourth - on a strikeout and wild pitch. Danny Espinosa followed with a double, but Cingrani struck out three more hitters to escape the inning without allowing any runs.
In doing so, Cingrani joined Joe Nuxhall , Mario Soto , Tim Birtsas and Frankie Rodriguez as the only Reds with a four-strikeout inning.
Cingrani also became the first Cincinnati rookie to strike out 10 in a game since Johnny Cueto struck out 10 San Diego Padres on July 22, 2008, and the first left-handed Cincinnati rookie to do so since since Dennys Reyes struck out 12 Pittsburgh Pirates on August 20, 1998.
The Reds, who had one hit in each of the series' first two games, found enough offense Sunday to lead from the first inning onward.
Cincinnati had four infield singles, and not only did No. 9 hitter Cingrani and No. 8 hitter Corky Miller score after their infield hits, Miller scored on an infield hit by Zack Cozart .
Joey Votto provided the Reds' only extra-base hit, a first-inning double that set the stage for Phillips' two-run single.
Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki doubled in the seventh, scoring Ian Desmond . Desmond then doubled in the eighth to score Bryce Harper , who walked in a 10-pitch plate appearance.
Ross Detwiler (1-2) allowed three earned runs in five innings, and his 11 hits allowed matched a career high.
Aroldis Chapman earned his fifth save in five opportunities.
NOTES: Reds RF Jay Bruce , who had hit fifth in each of Cincinnati's first 25 games, dropped to sixth in the lineup. The team's normal No. 6 hitter, 3B Todd Frazier , moved up to fifth. "Things change during the course of the season," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We are in a production business." Bruce had two hits Sunday, and Frazier had one. ... Washington 1B Adam LaRoche is 0 for his last 26. He struck out thrice Sunday, including once with the bases loaded. Half his at-bats in the skid have now ended in strikeouts. ... Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez walked Miller in the eighth inning on a pitch that caromed so hard off the backstop, the ball nearly hit Rodriguez on the mound. . The Nationals and Reds completed their season series Sunday. Washington won three of seven. ... Basketball Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor and Dave Bing and Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Wood were among 10 members inducted before the game into the Washington D.C. Sports Hall of Fame. ... Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-4, 3.16) will face Braves RHP Julio Teheran (1-0, 5.48) on Monday in Atlanta. ... Cincinnati RHP Mat Latos (1-0, 2.16) will face Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright (4-1) on Monday in St. Louis.