Tony Cingrani fanned 11 Washington Nationals and Brandon Phillips gave the Reds an early 2-0 lead to help Cincinnati avoid a four-game sweep in the nation’s capital on Sunday as they won 5-2.
Cingrani’s (2-0) 11 strikeouts gives him 28 in just 18 innings and he also lowered his ERA to 1.50. It also helped that the Reds (14-12) finally picked up their first lead of the four game series on Sunday.
Cincinnati jumped on starter Ross Detwiler (1-2), who held the Reds to an unearned run in six innings earlier this season, when Zack Cozart singled and then Joey Votto followed with a double to give the Reds a rare scoring opportunity. Phillips capitalized on the opportunity by scoring both runners on a single to center field.
It didn’t take long for the Reds to score again as Cingrani helped his own cause with a single and then advanced to third on an error by second baseman Danny Espinosa on a ground ball by Shin-Soo Choo. Cozart walked to load the bases for Votto, who came through with an RBI single to extend the lead to 3-0.
The Reds played small ball as they were able to score a run without leaving the infield. Corky Miller started with an infield single and then Cingrani bunted him over and Choo hit a ground ball to the second baseman to advance Miller to third. Cozart followed with a ground ball to short that forced third baseman Anthony Rendon to make a sliding play, but his throw pulled Adam LaRoche off first to allow Cozart to reach safely and Miller to score.
The Nationals (13-12) threatened in the bottom half of the fourth when Cingrani struck out Denard Span, but the ball got away from Miller to allow Span to reach. Espinosa followed with a double and then after a Bryce Harper strikeout, Jayson Werth walked to load the bases. Cingrani then got Ian Desmond to strikeout swinging and LaRoche looking for his fourth strikeout of the inning to end the threat.
Sam LeCure came on in relief in the seventh, but was roughed up by the Nats who scored their first run on an RBI double by Kurt Suzuki. Sean Marshall came on to help the Reds escape without giving up another run.
The Reds picked up an insurance run in the eighth when Cozart’s sac fly scored Miller after three straight walks by Henry Rodriguez. Rodriguez will be glad to not see the Reds again as he allowed three runs in 1.2 innings and issued four walks.
Washington scored on an RBI double by Desmond off Jonathan Broxton in the bottom half of the inning, but the Nationals were quickly dispatched by Aroldis Chapman in the ninth for his fifth save of the year.
Cincinnati lost the season series with Washington 4-3 despite a strong showing at Great American Ballpark when they outscored the Nats 27-10.
The Reds continue their road trip on Monday as they have a chance to move into second place as they head to St. Louis for a three-game series with the Cardinals (14-10). The Redbirds lost their hold on first place after losing two of three to Pittsburgh to give the Pirates a half game lead in the NL Central. The Reds trail the Cardinals by one game and the Pirates by a game and a half in the early going.
Mat Latos (1-0, 2.16 ERA) looks to build off another strong outing as he will face Adam Wainwright (4-1, 1.93 ERA) who has won his last four starts.