Jul 22, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (34) takes the field at the bottom of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Pitching, Harper's Poor Baserunning Stories of Nats 1-0 Loss

Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark may historically play as a generous hitters’ park, but Saturday afternoon hosted a pure pitchers’ duel as the Reds Johnny Cueto (11-6) bested the Nationals Gio Gonzalez (6-6) 1-0.

In his last start against the Milwaukee Brewers, Gonzalez lasted just 3 1/3 innings, and on Saturday Gonzalez didn’t allow his first hit until 3 1/3.  On the afternoon, Gonzalez went seven innings, allowing a single run on four hits and two walks while striking out eight.  It was the fourth time he’s allowed one or fewer runs since returning from the disabled list on June 18.

The Reds scored their lone run in the fifth, when Chris Heisey led off the inning with a double, stole third with one out, and then scored on a Brayan Pena single past the drawn in Anthony Rendon.

Cueto entered the game second in the NL in both ERA and strikeouts and first in WHIP, and he looked every part the ace today.  He struck out nine in seven innings while allowing four hits and three walks.  Cueto lowered his ERA to 2.08, which is only .06 points behind leader Adam Wainwright while now six strikeouts behind Stephen Strasburg.

When the Nats had chances on the bases, they ran themselves out of opportunities to score.  Bryce Harper, who walked twice, was doubled up on first after guessing a Wilson Ramos drive to right-center would fall for a hit, and then he was caught trying to go first to third on a Ramos infield single in the seventh.  Ian Desmond was caught stealing in the ninth after leading off the inning with a walk off Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.

Harper’s second base running blunder was particularly costly as it came with the Nats down a run and would have left runners at first and second with only one out.  Kevin Frandsen then flied out to end the inning.

Chapman earned his 22nd save.

Denard Span singled in his first at-bat, making it 9-for-11 extending back to his last game against Colorado.  He finished the day 1-for-4.  Ramos finished 2-for-4 with two singles.  Jayson Werth went 1-for-2 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch.  As a team, the Nats totaled only four hits, all singles, though they did walk five times.

The Reds snapped a seven-game losing streak while the Nats have won five of seven.  They are 3-2 on their current nine game road trip.

They look to take Game 3 against the Reds on Sunday with Doug Fister (9-2) going against righty Mat Latos (2-2).

Tags: Washington Nationals

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