On an afternoon when scoring was at a premium, the Nationals fell short against the visiting Cincinnati Reds, losing 2-1.
Pitching and “what might have beens” were the stories for this afternoon tilt as both Tanner Roark (3-2) and Alfredo Simon (6-2) handled injury depleted lineups with each allowing a single earned run. Roark finished the day going six and allowing two runs, one earned, on six hits and with two strike outs. Simon did him one better, throwing seven while allowing five hits with six strike outs.
The Nats scored first as Denard Span led off the game with his first home run of the season. The hit was his sixth straight, counting his 5-for-5 hitting display on Tuesday night, and at that point he was eight for his last 11. On the night, Span finished with two hits, his third straight game with two or more hits and his fourth such game in the last five. Over that “span,” he has raised his slash line from .235/.286/.331 to .263/.308/.363.
The Reds countered in the fourth, scoring two runs with RBI singles by Brandon Phillips and Brayan Pena. Roark pitched six serviceable innings on a day where he clearly did not have his best stuff. The Reds hit the ball hard at times, hitting deep fly balls that found the Nats’ gloves, as Roark’s fastball ran back to the middle of the plate.
The Reds were once again without Joey Votto and Jay Bruce while the Nats did not have the services of starters Adam LaRoche, Ryan Zimmerman, and Bryce Harper. Also sitting was Anthony Rendon who was replaced by Kevin Frandsen at third. The move might have backfired, however, as Frandsen committed an error in the fourth, giving the Reds an extra out and allowing Phillips to move to second for Pena to drive in.
Aroldis Chapman closed out the ninth for this third save of the season.
Also recording hits in this game were Ian Desmond and Nate McLouth. Both players have been struggling this year, but lately, each has started to hit the ball with more authority. For Desmond, he has now recorded at least one hit in eight of his last 10 games, and McLouth has hit in six of his last nine.
The Nats now travel to Pittsburgh where they play a four game series. Pitching Thursday is Blake
Treinen (0-1) whom the Nats recalled from Class AAA Syracuse to take Gio Gonzalez’s spot in the rotation. In Treinen’s last start for the Nats, he threw five innings against the Lost Angeles Dodgers, allowing seven hits and three runs, all unearned. Scheduled to start for the Pirates is Edinson Volquez (1-4).