It was the pitching performance from Dan Haren that the Nationals had been expecting from the veteran right hander, but had not received yet this year. Haren had his best outing in a Nats uniform today, pitching six innings and only giving up two runs. The Washington Nationals beat the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday afternoon 6-3 in front of a near capacity crowd of Nats fans.
It was a good day for the Nationals in general. Bryce Harper hit a two run homer, his ninth of the year. Denard Span had two hits and an RBI and two spectacular catches in the outfield, one of which robbed Joey Votto of a home run, the other of which came with the bases loaded with Reds in the top of the seventh, ending the inning and saving two or three runs. The Nationals had ten hits and five walks against the Reds pitching staff, with most of the Nats getting on base during the game one way or another.
Brandon Leake, the Reds starter, was roughed up by the Nats early. Leake gave up six hits, three walks and four runs in three innings. The Nats opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning, getting two runs on RBIs by Haren and Span. The scoring continued in the bottom of the third when the home team got two more runs. Harper and Jayson Werth both singled. After Adam LaRoche flew out, Ian Desmond singled, scoring Harper. With runners on first and second, Anthony Rendon struck out, leaving it up to Kurt Suzuki who came through with a single toward third. Werth scored on a throwing error by Reds third baseman Jack Hannahan. Haren grounded out to end the inning, but Leake’s day was done having already thrown 71 pitches.
Haren got through six innings of work by mixing a variety of fastballs and changeups, using both sides of the plate to keep the Reds hitters off balance. Haren gave up one run in the fourth inning when Votto doubled and Brandon Phillips singled to drive him in. Shin-Soo Choo homered in the top of the sixth to score the second Reds run.
Alfredo Simon came in to pitch for Cincinnati in the fourth inning, and pitched three innings, giving up the two run homer to Harper. J. J. Hoover and Sean Marshall threw the seventh and eighth for the Reds, neither of whom gave up any runs.
The Reds threatened in the top of the seventh when Zach Duke was on the mound. Jay Bruce made it to second base on a throwing error from Danny Espinosa. Duke walked Xavier Paul and got Hannahan to strike out. Bruce advanced to third on Devin Mesoraco’s deep fly out. Davey Johnson replaced Duke with Tyler Clippard, who was a bit shaky in his outing. The first batter he faced, Todd Frazier, singled Bruce home. Clippard then walked Choo to load the bases before getting Zack Cozart to hit the deep fly ball that was tracked down by Span to save two or three runs. The Nats were out of the jam and the Nats did not really threaten again.
Next Game: Sunday April 28th at 1:35 p.m. Ross Detwiler (1-1, 1.38 ERA) starts for Washington, while Tony Cingrani (1-0, 2.25 ERA) will start for Cincinnati, in a game that promises a good pitching matchup.