Saturday’s game between the Reds and the Nationals was the second game of the three game series and featured promising up-and-comer Joe Ross against Marshall University product Dan Straily.
The Nationals’ season-long first inning woes continued on Saturday night when Adam Duvall, a welcomed surprise for the Reds, scored infielder Zack Cozart and outfielder Jose Peraza with his 19th double of the year. Later in the top of the first, second baseman Brandon Phillips singled up the middle to score Duvall. The Reds sent eight batters to the plate and led 3-0 after one inning of play.
In the top of the second inning, Cozart again made his presence known with a soft groundball which caromed off the wall in foul ground near rightfield.Tucker Barnhart scored and the Reds increased their lead to 4-0.
Outfielder Ben Revere, who has been surging offensively lately, mashed a triple identical to his walkoff double from Friday night. Centerfielder Billy Hamilton could not get to the ball and it ricocheted off the rightfield scoreboard, allowing infielder Stephen Drew to score from first base. The Reds led 4-1.
Both teams’ bats were quiet until the bottom of the eighth inning when the Nats tied the game at four. Shortstop Danny Espinosa hit his 16th homerun off Straily to come within one run of Cincinnati. Rightfielder Bryce Harper added to the comeback effort with an opposite field RBI single, beating the shift and scoring third baseman Anthony Rendon. After the ninth inning, the game went to extras.
The Reds wasted no time in taking the game back in the top of the 10th inning. After reliever Sammy Solis allowed two hits, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s fielding error on a bunt by speedster Hamilton filled the bases. One batter later, Barnhart served a soft liner up to Harper in right field, but Harper also booted the ball, allowing an additional run to score. Matt Belisle came in to relieve Solis after not being able to retire a batter. Belisle promptly struck out one batter and then threw a wild pitch, advancing runners to second and third. Peraza then hit a soft RBI single to center, scoring Barnhart. After the second coaching visit of the inning, Jay Bruce productively grounded out, scoring Cozart.
After the sloppy, disastrous half inning, the Reds led 9-4. Although two Nats reached base in the bottom of the 10th on errors, Cincinnati quietly put away the Nationals.
The Nats and Reds square off for the series finale on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. John Lamb (1-4, 4.60 ERA) takes the rubber against the undefeated Stephen Strasburg (10-0, 2.90 ERA) to decide the series winner.